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Fred B. Share Attorney At Law

Basic Information About Guardianships

Establishing a legal guardianship in Florida essentially involves two, simultaneously occurring steps — the "petition to determine incapacity" and the "petition to appoint a guardian" over the person and his or her assets.

Once these documents are filed with the appropriate probate court, a judge will appoint an attorney to represent the interests of the person who's alleged to be incapacitated and schedule a hearing on each issue. Although these hearings are distinct, they are most often combined into a single hearing.

With respect to the incapacity determination, the court will also appoint a three-member examining committee of professionals that typically includes a physician. Each of these professionals interviews the person in question and files a report with the court in advance of the hearing. Together, these reports and evidence offered at the hearing must clearly and convincingly establish the person's "incompetency" or the judge will not appoint a guardian.

Although there are certain "fitness" requirements, any adult resident of Florida can be appointed as a legal guardian. Non-Florida residents may also be appointed, provided they are within a certain degree of relation to the would-be "ward."

Lastly, Florida also requires the appointment of a guardian whenever a minor obtains or inherits assets valued at $15,000 or more.