A central idea behind the laws in Stuart and throughout the state of Florida is that we all have the right to decide our own fate. This includes the rights to buy and sell property, to make medical decisions, and even to decide where to live. However, the simple fact is that many of us will lose the ability to make informed decisions due to a physical or mental incapacity. When this occurs, it may be necessary to have an appointed guardian make these choices for us.
The decision on whether a person needs a guardian is one decided by a court. In fact, the court can only approve this request after allowing other relatives or interested parties a chance to object and having the alleged incapacitated person examined by a committee. The committee expresses its opinion as to whether the alleged incapacitated person is truly in need of a guardian.
A Stuart guardianship lawyer can help to file petitions for guardianship in local courts. The lawyer works to gather the necessary information and make the case to the court for why a guardian is necessary.
Every person over the age of 18 has the right to make their own decisions about their life. The only exception to this rule is if a court determines that a severe mental or physical handicap leaves that person unable to act in their own best interest. When this is the case, the court may consider a petition for guardianship from any concerned party.
What does it mean to be incapacitated? According to Fla. Stat. §744.102(12), an incapacitated person is one who lacks the capacity to manage at least some of their property or lacks the ability to meet some of their essential health and safety requirements. In simpler terms, they cannot care for their own well-being or manage their property.
There are two forms of guardianship available in Stuart. The most common is a general or plenary guardianship. Here, the guardian has full authority to take whatever steps are necessary to help the subject (although some actions must be approved by the court first). The other form is a limited guardianship. This gives a guardian the power to only take specific actions authorized by the court. A Stuart guardianship lawyer can help explain the forms and functions of guardianships.
Obtaining a guardianship can be a relatively complex legal process. Because of the intensive legal ramifications of this decision, potential guardians must follow a strict procedure.
The process begins with a concerned friend or family member submitting a request for an appointment as a guardian under Fla. Stat. §744.3201. Under this statute, a petitioner must provide specific information for why they believe the subject to require a guardian as well as provide the contact information for all next of kin for the subject. This is to allow these family members the opportunity to potentially object to the appointment.
Once the court receives the petition, the court will appoint an examining committee to determine whether the subject fits the definition of “incapacitated”. According to Fla. Stat. §744.331(3), the examining committee must include doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, or other people qualified to testify as to the subject’s mental and physical capacity. When the examinations are complete, the court will schedule a hearing within 30 days. At the hearing, the court will rule on the guardianship petition. A Stuart guardianship lawyer can help to either promote or contest the imposition of a guardianship order.
At some point in many of our lives, it may be necessary to rely on the skills of others for even our most basic needs. If these involve exercising legal rights, such as selling property or seeking medical care, the appointment of a legal guardian may be necessary. Guardians have full legal rights to act on behalf of a ward, in the case of a plenary guardianship, or limited power to perform specific functions.
In either case, a court must approve this appointment. A Stuart guardianship attorney can help you to protect the interests of a loved one who may be unable to make his or her own decisions.