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Guardianship

Cape Coral Lawyers Helping People with Estate Planning Issues

Handicap ManGenerally, once people reach the age of eighteen, they are legally considered adults and have the right to live independently. Some people, though, have cognitive impairments or mental disabilities that render them incapable of making decisions that are in their best interests. Fortunately, the law allows family members and other concerned parties to seek guardianships over incapacitated people to help protect their physical, mental, and financial health. The process of seeking the legal right to make decisions for another person is complicated, and it is advisable for anyone with questions about guardianship to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The skilled Cape Coral estate planning lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. have ample experience helping people with guardianship matters, and if you engage our services, we can help you seek your desired outcome efficiently and discretely. We frequently aid people in guardianship actions in Cape Coral and in Fort Myers, and Naples.

The Process of Seeking Guardianships

A guardianship essentially determines that a person lacks the capacity to make important decisions and therefore assigns the right to make such decisions to another person. Florida Statute 744, which is known as the Florida Guardianship Law, governs guardianships. The process of establishing a guardianship begins with the filing of a petition to determine incapacity and a petition to appoint a guardian. Shortly after the petitions are filed, the court will appoint a committee to evaluate the allegedly incapacitated person’s ability to function and make decisions and will submit a report of their findings to the court. The court will then schedule a hearing to determine whether the person is incapacitated and, if so, will appoint a guardian.

Types of Guardianships

Numerous types of guardianships are allowed for under the Florida Guardianship Law, but the two most common types of adult guardianships are plenary and limited. A plenary guardian has the authority to exercise all delegable rights and powers of the incapacitated individual. In other words, they have the right to make all decisions regarding the person’s health, finances, and property. Florida law provides that courts must use the least restrictive alternative to protect incapacitated people, and therefore, the courts will only appoint plenary guardians in cases in which the wards are deemed totally incapacitated.

Limited guardianships only grant certain decision-making rights to the guardian and are typically created in situations where the court finds that the ward is partially incapacitated. For example, an individual may be granted guardianship of the property, which means he or she can manage the ward’s assets and real property. In some instances, the court will grant guardianship of the person, which allows the guardian to make decisions on personal issues like health care and housing for the ward.

Conservatorships In Florida

While many people use the terms guardianship and conservatorship interchangeably, in Florida, the terms have different meanings. Conservatorships, which are governed by Florida Statute 747, allow a person to gain the authority to take charge of the property and estate of an absentee person. Only Florida residents who disappear due to mental health issues or under circumstances that indicate they may have died and members of the Armed Forces, Red Cross, or Merchant Marines who have been reported missing, captured by an enemy, or interned in a neutral country will be deemed absentees under the meaning of the law. If the court finds that a person is an absentee, it will appoint someone to act as a conservator of the missing person’s estate. Conservators have the same duties, powers, and rights as a guardian of the property, and the absentee and his or her dependents are entitled to the same benefits as a ward or a ward’s dependents.

Consult a Knowledgeable Florida Estate Planning Attorney Today

Guardianships can help people protect their loved one’s interests, but the process of appointing a guardian can be arduous and confusing. As such, it is advisable for anyone interested in guardianship to consult an attorney. The knowledgeable Florida lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. have ample experience helping people establish guardianships and conservatorships, and if you need assistance determining how to proceed, we can advise you of your options and guide you through the process of taking the legal steps necessary to protect your interests or the interests of your loved one. We regularly help people address their planning needs in Cape Coral and Fort Myers, and Naples. Our offices are located in Cape Coral, Naples, and Fort Myers, and you can reach us through our online form or at 800-283-7442 to set up a consultation.

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