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Steps that must be taken when seeking a Florida guardianship

It can be heartbreaking to realize that a beloved family member is no longer able to make their own decisions. But, should that time occur, many Florida residents choose to appoint a guardian for their family member to take care of them and make their medical, financial and personal decisions. However, the process of granting a guardianship in Florida is a very deliberate process and must be followed exactly.

The first step in the process is for an adult over the age of 18 to file three forms with a Florida court. The first form is called a Petition to Determine Incapacity, which informs the court that the person in question, who is also known as a ward, is in need of guardianship. The next form to file is a Petition for Appointment of Guardian, which asks the court to name a guardian for the ward. The final form that must be submitted is the Application for Appointment as Guardian, which asks the court to name a specific individual as the guardian.

Once these three forms are filed, a court will appoint three individuals to act as an examining committee. One member of the committee must be either a doctor or a psychiatrist, while the other members must also be medically trained personnel and one of them must be familiar with the condition that the ward is suffering from, although this person cannot be the ward's personal physician. Each of the three committee members will then meet with the ward and file a written report with the court.

Should the court decide to appoint a family member as a guardian for the ward, they must attend an eight hour educational course for guardians. They must also submit to criminal and credit background checks and must prove to the court that they have completed these tasks.

Many Florida residents name a guardian for their affairs while they are going through the estate planning process. However, any Florida resident who wants to learn more about Florida guardianship may want to speak to an estate planning attorney in order to determine what a legally appointed guardian can and cannot do.

Source: FindLaw, "Florida Guardianship Procedures," Accessed Feb. 22, 2016

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