Tampa Guardianship Attorney
There may come a time in a person’s life when due to accidental injury, illness, or age-related disease such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, that they can no longer take care of themselves. At that point, a concerned family member such as a spouse or adult child may be able and willing to step in and help manage their affairs. However, one cannot make medical decisions for another, pay their bills or deposit their checks, talk to their broker, rent them an apartment, etc., without the legal authority to do so. A guardianship gives a person that legal authority and lets others (doctors, banks, etc.) know they can legally and responsibly interact with the guardian as the legal representative of the ward.
If you find yourself in a situation where you should no longer be in charge of making certain decisions or understand that you need help in this area, or if you have an elder relative in need of care, the Tampa guardianship attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group can guide you through the process to establish a guardianship. We’ll help you complete all paperwork and be with you at any required court appearances to help ensure the process is smooth and successful with a positive outcome.
What is the Guardianship Process in Florida?
The process to create a guardianship begins with the filing of a petition with the court by the proposed guardian. Most often, the petitioner is a close family member, such as a spouse or adult child, but Florida law actually allows any competent adult to petition for a guardianship of another.
An additional petition is also filed with the Mental Health Department, which appoints a committee to evaluate the proposed ward. The proposed ward is examined by a three-member panel who reports their findings back to the court, including a recommendation on whether a guardianship would be appropriate. Panel members can include a doctor, psychiatrist, nurse, social worker, or other similar professionals with expertise relative to the needs of the ward.
The judge in the Hillsborough County Court overseeing the case will review the report and hold a hearing. At this hearing, the judge can accept evidence and hear testimony regarding why guardianship is appropriate. The judge will decide whether a guardianship is suitable or whether some less restrictive alternative should be implemented.
If the judge agrees that guardianship is proper, the judge will appoint a guardian and issues Letters of Guardianship that detail the guardian’s powers and duties and give legal authority to the guardian to act on the ward’s behalf.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Tampa Guardianship Proceeding?
Under Florida law, both the proposed ward and proposed guardian must be represented by an attorney. This is the case whether the guardianship is voluntary or involuntary. A voluntary guardianship is one where the person suffering from incapacity agrees that guardianship is needed. A Tampa guardianship attorney from Strategic Counsel Law Group can advise and represent you whether you are seeking guardianship for yourself or another person.
Alternatives to Guardianship
When thoughtful, comprehensive estate planning has been conducted, it is often not necessary to go through the time, expense and effort to seek a guardianship. A strategic, effective estate planning attorney will create the right combination of durable powers of attorney, advance healthcare directives, trusts and other legal documents that take the place of a guardianship. By taking these steps while you are healthy and in control of your estate, you can not only avoid having to be placed under guardianship, but you’ll have a say as to who will have authority over your affairs and be able to provide input regarding how you’ll want your affairs conducted. Having everything already in place also reduces the anxiety for your loved ones who may be stressing over who should be the guardian or whether a guardianship is the right step to take. These documents can be written so that they only come into play if you become incapacitated, and things can revert to your control if you regain capacity.
Strategic Counsel Law Group is Your Guiding Hand in Tampa Guardianship Matters
Strategic Counsel Law Group is here to help you and guide you through the guardianship process, whether seeking guardianship for yourself or a loved one. Call our Tampa guardianship attorneys at 813-286-1700 to discuss your options for guardianship, power of attorney, or other effective alternatives.