How to File For Guardianship in the State of Florida

Filing for Guardianship in the State of Florida can be applied for by any person who is qualified under the statutes of the State of Florida. A guardianship is sought when somebody is having problems taking care of themselves, either financially, physically or medically and seeks an order of the Court appointing someone with the legal authority to take care of that person. Once a legal guardian is appointed, that guardian is the person who is responsible for the incapacitated person, until the guardian is removed and or the person dies.

If you want to become a guardian, how do you file for guardianship? Guardianship is more than just a proceeding to appoint a guardian. There are preliminary legal proceedings before the guardianship can be ordered.

  1. If there is an emergency involved, which is considered by the Court to be a matter of life and death, a person seeking a guardianship can pursue an emergency temporary guardianship, so that they can be appointed on a temporary basis to take care of the needs of the alleged incapacitated person whether that person is incapacitated as to person. Because the person is appointed emergency temporary guardian that does not automatically mean they become guardian: This is an issue that is determined by the Court in its discretion as to the qualifications of the applying guardian as well.
  2. TIf no emergency exist, a petition for incapacity has to be filed. The person petitioning seeks to have the person who is having the care issues declared legally incapacitated in the State of Florida. Legal incapacity means that the person is not able to care for themselves whether financially, physically or medically and needs to have someone make legal decision for them.

If a finding of incapacity is found the next step is for the Court to determine if there are any documents that would substitute for a guardianship such as a Living Will, Healthcare Surrogate, Durable Power of Attorney, Will and Trust. If those documents exist, and if they were properly executed and are valid, then the Court may allow the incapacitated person to be represented by the person named in those documents, rather than a guardian. These documents are considered to be lesser restrictive alternatives to Guardianship.

If in fact a guardianship is granted and you wish to become a guardian, you will be subjected to a criminal background check, financial investigation, fingerprinting, and other related requirements in order to qualify for guardianship. You will also have to undergo a guardianship course and file reports on a yearly basis and be required to file documents with the Court on behalf of the alleged incapacitated person. In terms of a guardian, you are required to act in a fiduciary manner and you are accountable to the Court for your actions. Should you wish to forego being a guardian, you can seek to have a professional guardian appointed for the alleged incapacitated person, who will charge a fee for their services, who is insured, bonded and approved by the Courts.

You file a guardianship by first either pursuing an emergency temporary guardianship, and, if not, a petition for incapacity. Once the incapacity is granted, and the person is found to be either partially or fully incapacitated, you then petition to be appointed guardian, and if you are approved as guardian, letters of guardianship are issued for you. You may be appointed a limited guardian or full plenary guardian. Limited guardianship applies either to the person or the property. Plenary guardianship applies to all rights of the person. What the guardianship does, is legally remove certain rights of the person by being declared incapacitated.

By serving as a guardian, if you are not a professional, you may be reimbursed for expenses incurred, travel, and related items, and in certain circumstances may be paid a fee for your services, depending on what those services are. It you wish to learn more about how to file for legal guardianship, please contact Law Firm in Florida. Jerome Siegel has practiced guardianship law for over 37 years in the State of Florida and we will be more than happy to have a consultation with you. Please contact my office at 954-229-2226.