Guardianship is the process designed to protect and exercise the legal rights of individuals whose functional limitations prevent them from being able to make their own decisions. When the court removes an individual's rights to order his or her own affairs – whether one is dealing with a minor whose assets must be managed by another or an adult with a disability who is not capable of making decisions for him/herself – there is an accompanying duty to protect the individual.
Guardianship For Minors
Florida law requires the court to appoint a guardian for minors in circumstances where the parents die or become incapacitated, or if a child receives an inheritance or proceeds of a lawsuit or insurance policy exceeding the amount allowed by statute. A guardian can be appointed to control both the custody of a minor and a minor’s finances.
Guardianship For Adults
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. Guardianship is only warranted when no less restrictive alternative – such as durable power of attorney, trust, health care surrogate or proxy, or other form of pre-need directive – is found by the court to be appropriate and available.
Guardian Advocacy is a process under §393.12 of the Florida Statutes for family members, caregivers, or friends of individuals with a developmental disability to obtain the legal authority to act on their behalf when they turn 18.
Unlike a full guardianship, a court does not have to declare the person with a developmental disability incapacitated. Instead, the focus is on the “decision-making” ability of the individual. The annual reporting requirements of a Guardian Advocacy tend to be less detailed than a full guardianship.