Estate Planning And Elder Law Services In Orlando And Beyond

Experienced Assistance With Guardianships For Orlando Families

When a person needs help taking care of themselves, the family usually steps up to assist. Many times, you must formalize your caretaker relationship with an aging parent or disabled child by becoming their legal guardian.

Establishing a formal guardianship for an elderly and vulnerable adult or disabled child who is turning 18 requires clear legal guidance from a trusted lawyer.

Our attorney at The Kaplan Firm, Mary Kaplan, has practiced elder law for more than 20 years. If you need to establish guardianship over a loved one, she can represent and advise you through the process. We will treat your case with the sensitivity and care that your family deserves.

Two types of guardianships apply to nearly every case in central Florida. One type involves when a senior develops Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia or has otherwise become unable to handle their affairs due to aging. The person might not have an estate plan that designates someone else as their durable power of attorney or health care surrogate if they become incapacitated.

In that situation, the senior’s spouse, one of their children or another concerned relative or a third party can ask the court to appoint them as a guardian advocate and make the senior their ward. This can give you control over the senior’s financial decisions and personal care, which you must make in their best interests.

Though a mentally competent adult who is otherwise unable to handle their own affairs can voluntarily ask the court to appoint a guardian, often, individuals must seek one after the vulnerable person has become mentally incompetent. This is known as involuntary guardianship.

The other type of guardianship, known as guardian advocacy, is for when a child who was disabled from birth and cannot care for themselves is about to turn 18. Parents often seek to be appointed a guardian advocate so they can continue to handle their son’s or daughter’s financial, medical and social affairs after they have become legal adults.

What Are Some Reasons People Get A Guardianship?

The most common reason someone seeks guardianship of their parent or other relative is mental decline.

The person is suffering from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, has had a stroke, has sustained a severe traumatic brain injury or has developed an all-consuming mental disorder. They are no longer able to handle their own financial affairs or make decisions about their medical care. Wards of guardians are often, but not always, seniors.

Who Can Be A Guardian?

In Florida, any mentally competent state resident who has never been convicted of a felony may serve as a guardian. Generally, out-of-state residents can also be a Florida resident’s guardian, but only if they are directly related to the ward or are the ward’s adoptive parent or child.

When Does A Guardianship Expire?

The court does not put a set end date on guardianship orders. However, certain events, such as the death of the ward or the ward regaining mental competence, can cause the court to terminate it. Otherwise, the guardianship will last for the rest of the ward’s life.

Guardianships can be sensitive matters. The senior or disabled child may disagree that they need help. Nobody wants to oppose their loved one in court. We know how to take care of these situations with tact and the minimum amount of rancor possible.

If you are considering a guardianship over a parent, spouse or child, you need to know how the process works. Visit us at our Orlando office for an initial consult with Mary Kaplan. Please call 407-863-6175 for an appointment.