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Tampa Guardianship Lawyer Helps You Protect the Ones You Love

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Guardianship is a legal construct that gives one person authority to make decisions for the health and welfare of another. If you are responsible for a dependent minor, an elderly adult or a disabled adult, you have probably wondered about the concept of guardianship. Can you appoint guardians for your children? Can you assume guardianship of an adult? On the other hand, you might be dealing with a relative who is aggressively seeking to become your guardian before you are ready to surrender your autonomy. At Sessums Law Group, P.A., we’re prepared to assist you with all these circumstances so you can overcome legal hurdles and achieve the best results for you and your loved one.

Guardianship of a child in Florida

Florida law requires that a guardian be appointed for a child under certain circumstances:

  • The parents die or become incapacitated.
  • The child receives an inheritance, insurance payout or proceeds from a lawsuit in excess of the statutory limit of $15,000.

If you have minor children, you might want to appoint a guardian in your will. However, this appointment does not become legal until the court approves and appoints the guardian after your passing. If you are a close relative of a child whose parents have passed away, you might want to be appointed guardian. Our family lawyers can guide you through the process toward the best outcome for all concerned.

Guardianship for an adult in Florida

Florida is known to have a high percentage of senior residents, most of whom lead active lives in retirement. However, it’s inevitable that age brings infirmity, and aging adults often need assistance with life’s necessities, especially managing finances.

Florida law allows the court to appoint a guardian when an older adult agrees that it is necessary or has shown a lack of capacity that requires intervention. A voluntary guardianship works much the same way as a power of attorney. The senior, who will be known as the ward, transfers legal authority to someone who can then manage finances and make decisions that affect the ward’s health and welfare. However, the court can also appoint a guardian over the would-be ward’s objection in what is known as an involuntary guardianship.

What you should know about involuntary guardianships for Florida adults

The first and most important point is that the court can only appoint a guardian over an adult ward’s objection after an adjudication of incapacity, so it must be established through a hearing that the ward has lost the capacity to manage without assistance. Because this is a legal proceeding, the ward has the right to counsel and due process. The ward can have a lawyer, call witnesses and introduce evidence to rebut allegations of incapacity.

Furthermore, the law requires that the court choose the least restrictive option possible in an involuntary guardianship. For example, if the ward has become forgetful to the point of not paying bills on time, the court can appoint a guardian to manage certain areas of finance but would not give the guardian decision-making authority regarding investments, real estate and personal property, nor would the guardian be able to make medical decisions for the ward.

In our practice, we represent guardians and wards in adjudications for involuntary guardianships. We offer sound counsel based on your specific circumstances designed to lead to the best, most practical results.

Contact our Tampa family law attorneys for answers about guardianships

Sessums Law Group, P.A. represents guardians and wards in guardianship procedures in and around the Tampa Bay area. Please call 813-435-5058 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. We have locations in Tampa, Lakeland, Sebring and Sarasota.

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