Our guardianship attorneys provide knowledgeable and experienced assistance in guardianships. We can effectively and efficiently handle any guardianship situation which may arise. We assist our clients in establishing guardianships, filing required annual reports with the courts, petitions for permission in various situations, and preparing documents required to terminate a guardianship when it is no longer necessary. We also handle contested guardianship matters should any of the above issues not go smoothly.
Our guardianship attorneys can assist you in establishing guardianships for minors who have received assets due to inheritance or accident settlements. We also handle guardianships of adults who have become incompetent through illness, age or injury and now need a guardian to handle their financial affairs and make important health decisions on their behalf.
Adults who are competent now but anticipate the need for a guardianship in the future, either for themselves or their heirs, are also encouraged to work with us ahead of time to plan for their needs so that a guardianship will not be necessary.
A legal Guardian is a person who has the legal authority (and the corresponding duty) to care for the personal and property interests of another person, called a Ward. Usually, a person has the status of Guardian because the Ward is incapable of caring for his or her own interests due to infancy, incapacity, or disability.
Florida has laws, as do all states, providing for the parents of a minor child being able to designate who shall become the child's legal Guardian in the event of both parents' death. Likewise, a senior can designate ahead of time who will be their Guardian in the event of their incapacity. This can alleviate arguments down the line and provide peace of mind.
In the right circumstances, Guardianship of a senior can and should be avoided entirely by the use of well-drafted Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Surrogate Designations ("Advance Directives").
Courts generally have the power to appoint a Guardian for an individual in need of special protection or who has no Advance Directives. A Guardian with responsibility for both the personal well-being and the financial interests of the Ward is a Plenary Guardian. A person may also be appointed as a Limited Guardian, having limited powers over the interests of the Ward. A Limited Guardian may, for example, be given the legal right to determine the disposition of the Ward's property without being given any authority over the Ward's person. A Guardian is responsible for making regular reports to the Court concerning the Ward's interests that the Guardian is overseeing. Also, the Guardian is required to have an attorney. A Guardian appointed to represent the interests of a person with respect to a single action in litigation is a Guardian ad Litem.
Should it not go as smoothly as described above, our experience includes: handling issues arising from will contests; breach of trust; elective share disputes; guardianship and guardianship disputes; fiduciary conflicts of interest; formation; modification and termination of trusts; prudent investor rules; accounting controversies; fee disputes; agency under powers of attorney; health care surrogate designations, and other disputed claims. Our clients include charities, businesses, families, individuals and charities.
No one guardianship is exactly like another and our experienced attorneys and staff can guide the Guardian through the various steps and duties required for an efficient and effective guardianship. We have been through that wilderness before and are familiar with the terrain.
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