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Not Just For The Elderly

Published on June 1, 2018 | By Mark NeJame - Orlando Litigation Attorney; Jaya Balani contributed to this article.

When you think of guardianship law you think of the elderly, however guardianship law encompasses so much more. Guardianship law was created to take care of any incapacitated person at any age. A person can become incapacitated through repeated drug use, mental health issues, or from birth. The legal definition of incapacitated is a person temporarily or permanently impaired by mental and/or physical deficiency, disability, illness, or by the use of drugs to the extent he or she lacks sufficient understanding to make rational decisions or engage in responsible actions.

There are two different types of guardianships. The first is of just the person. This would be where the incapacitated person does not have any property or money to be handled correctly. An example of that would be a parent of their child just becoming an adult. Then there is of the person and the property. This is the situation when a person has finances and property but is not able to adequately take care of themselves or their belongings.

The procedure for guardianship in Florida requires the hiring of an attorney to represent the guardian. A parent can obtain guardianship of their child after the age of 18. In some circumstances it is relatively easy if the child, as a minor, has a mental disability, autism or something that would prevent them from being able to take care of themselves in everyday situations. However, if a parent were to apply for guardianship for their child after the age of 18 for a situation that did not occur as a minor, then they would have to go through the full process of having the child evaluated and having a court deem the child incapacitated.

There are several requirements for a guardian to be appointed. The court runs a background check and credit check to protect the interest of the incapacitated person. In circumstances where multiple people apply to be a guardian separately, the courts will determine the person best suited to look after their interests.

There are many situations where a person needs a guardian but doesn’t have someone to do it for them due to time, financial ability or just unavailability, there are professional guardians. These guardians have the training and ability to determine what the best course of action is for anyone with mental health, addictions or just failing memory. The court will appoint them and they will be required to report everything back to make sure that no one is being taken advantage of.

Being a guardian is not an easy task but it is one that can be rewarding by helping a loved one manage their life and finances and in some circumstances, get the medical help they need. The process can take several months and once the guardian is appointed, the work is not done. The guardianship is watched closely by the courts to make sure the incapacitated person is not being taken advantage of. The guardian has to provide inventories, accounting of funds and annual plans. A guardianship is not always permanent. A person can always petition the court to remove their guardian if their situation has changed and a doctor can determine that they can make their own decisions.

Jaya Balani, Partner with NeJame Law & Mark NeJame, jointly contributed to this article. Jaya Balani has been practicing criminal defense for 9 years. She has been with NeJame Law for 12 years and made partner in 2011. She has been a legal analyst for many high profile cases on local and national news networks. Throughout her career she has litigated in both state and federal court.

Originally Published at: Orlando Style Magazine

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