Adult Guardianships In Florida: Understanding The Less Restrictive Alternatives
There may come a time when a person is unable to manage their own financial and legal affairs. Incapacity can put a tremendous hardship on both the vulnerable person and their family. An adult guardianship is a legal tool that helps to ensure that vulnerable people get the protection that they need. At the same time, an adult guardianship is a big step—which is why less restrictive alternatives are always considered first. In this article, our Tampa guardianship attorneys explain the most important things that you should know about Florida law on adult guardianships and the least restrictive alternative.
What is an Adult Guardianship?
The Florida Courts explains that an adult guardianship is the “process by which the court finds an individual’s ability to make decisions so impaired that the court gives the right to make decisions to another person.” In other words, the adult placed in the care of a guardian loses control of their own rights. Those rights are granted to a trusted party who becomes responsible for protecting them.
Legislative Intent in Florida: Less Restrictive Alternative is Desirable
Although an adult guardianship is certainly a major step, it is also necessary in some cases. However, Florida law recognizes that an adult guardianship is, by definition, a significant imposition on the parties. As such, it is official legislative intent in Florida that less restrictive alternatives are considered to be desirable (Florida Statutes § 744.102(8)(a)). Some examples of less restrictive alternatives include:
- Establishment of joint bank accounts;
- Power of attorney (POA);
- Living trusts; and
- Appointment as a health care surrogate.
Note: There is also a type of adult guardianship called a limited adult guardianship. With this, the adult guardian obtains some—but not all—of the rights and responsibilities over the vulnerable person.
Filing for an Adult Guardianship? Be Ready to Prove Less Restrictive Alternatives Not Viable
If you are filing for an involuntary adult guardianship—meaning your vulnerable loved one will not and most likely cannot give their consent—you need to be prepared to prove that the less restrictive alternatives are not sufficient to provide them with adequate protection. Florida courts must consider less restrictive alternatives as a matter of law.
In adult guardianship cases, medical evidence is key. You will need to establish the incapacity of the vulnerable person as well as your capability of handling the role as a guardian. An experienced Tampa, FL adult guardianship attorney can help you put together all of the evidence and information that you need to build a strong case.
Get Help From an Adult Guardianship Lawyer in Tampa, Florida
At Strategic Counsel Law Group, L.C., our Tampa adult guardianship attorneys are compassionate and experienced advocates for people and families. If you have any specific questions about adult guardianships and the less restrictive alternative standard, we can help. Contact us now to set up your strictly private, no obligation initial appointment. With an office in Tampa, we help people and families with adult guardianship matters throughout Hillsborough County.