A guardianship is a legal proceeding in the circuit court in which a guardian exercises the legal rights of a minor or incapacitated person. Guardianships are established for various reasons: An adult who lacks the ability to care for himself/herself; a minor who has received an inheritance or personal injury settlement; or a minor who is living with relatives who need to make decisions about the minor’s schooling and health care.

Guardian advocacy is a special form of guardianship for individuals with developmental disabilities.  Like other forms of guardianship, guardian advocacy involves the court appointing one or more individuals to help take care of the person under guardianship. We work with families through the legal process of having a guardian advocate appointed by the Court to protect a proposed ward’s health, welfare and property, when the ward has developmental disabilities that constitute a substantial handicap that can reasonably be expected to continue indefinitely. Under Florida Statutes, a person is considered to have a developmental disability if he or she has (1) been diagnosed with mental retardation, cerebral palsy, autism, spina bifida, Down Syndrome or Prader-Willi syndrome, (2) that manifested before the age of 18, and (3) constitutes a substantial handicap that can be expected to continue for the rest of the person’s life.

When a child turns 18, the parents no longer have the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf, because individuals become adults in the eyes of the law on their eighteenth birthdays. Guardian Advocacy is a process under Florida Statutes for family members, caregivers, or friends of individuals with a developmental disability to obtain the legal authority to act on their behalf.

You can apply to be Guardian Advocate of the Person, the Property or both. A Guardian Advocate of the Person can seek to make personal decisions, including determining residence, consenting to medical or mental health treatment, and making social decisions. A Guardian Advocate of Property can ask the court to make property decisions, like contracting, suing and defending lawsuits, and managing property or making gifts. Generally, both can request the right to seek government benefits or act as representative payee. If you are contemplating establishing a guardianship for an adult disabled child, call Gilbert Garcia Group P.A. to discuss the specific details of your situation, so that we can determine what form of guardianship is most appropriate.

For more information contact Michelle Garcia Gilbert at (813) 638-8920 or guardianship@gilbertgrouplaw.com.

Guardianship FAQ