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Guardianship is a legal relationship between a guardian, the decision-maker appointed by the court to make personal or financial decisions for a minor or an adult with mental or physical disabilities, and the ward, the minor or adult with mental or physical disabilities who is the subject of the guardianship. Probate courts have exclusive jurisdiction over the appointment of guardians in Florida, and guardianship can be created for the person of the ward, for the property of the ward, or for both.

Florida has several different kinds of guardianships (including standby, preneed, and emergency temporary guardianship), which may be voluntary or involuntary. Establishing guardianship can be a complicated process that can be overwhelming for individuals and families.

Attorney for Guardianship in West Palm Beach, FL

If you are involved in a guardianship matter in South Florida, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Quality Family Law represents clients in Lake Worth, Palm Beach Gardens, Royal Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, Greenacres, and many surrounding areas of Broward County, Miami-Dade County, and Palm Beach County.

Our West Palm Beach divorce lawyers can help you satisfy the legal standards necessary in guardianship proceedings.

Call (561) 557-8686 right now to have our attorneys review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free, no obligation consultation.

Palm Beach County Guardianship Information Center

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Adult Guardianship in Florida

Adult guardianship often involves a ward who is considered an incapacitated person. Under Florida Statute § 744.102(12), an incapacitated person is defined as "a person who has been judicially determined to lack the capacity to manage at least some of the property or to meet at least some of the essential health and safety requirements of the person."

As used in this statute, the phrase "manage property" means "to take those actions necessary to obtain, administer, and dispose of real and personal property, intangible property, business property, benefits, and income," while "meet essential requirements for health or safety" means "to take those actions necessary to provide the health care, food, shelter, clothing, personal hygiene, or other care without which serious and imminent physical injury or illness is more likely than not to occur."

Florida has two types of guardians:

  • Limited Guardian — A guardian who has been appointed by the court to exercise the legal rights and powers specifically designated by court order entered after the court has found that the ward lacks the capacity to do some, but not all, of the tasks necessary to care for his or her person or property, or after the person has voluntarily petitioned for appointment of a limited guardian.
  • Plenary Guardian — A person who has been appointed by the court to exercise all delegable legal rights and powers of the ward after the court has found that the ward lacks the capacity to perform all of the tasks necessary to care for his or her person or property.

Florida Statute § 744.3215(1) establishes that a person who has been determined to be incapacitated retains the right:

  • To have an annual review of the guardianship report and plan;
  • To have continuing review of the need for restriction of his or her rights;
  • To be restored to capacity at the earliest possible time;
  • To be treated humanely, with dignity and respect, and to be protected against abuse, neglect, and exploitation;
  • To have a qualified guardian;
  • To remain as independent as possible, including having his or her preference as to place and standard of living honored, either as he or she expressed or demonstrated his or her preference prior to the determination of his or her incapacity or as he or she currently expresses his or her preference, insofar as such request is reasonable;
  • To be properly educated;
  • To receive prudent financial management for his or her property and to be informed how his or her property is being managed, if he or she has lost the right to manage property;
  • To receive services and rehabilitation necessary to maximize the quality of life;
  • To be free from discrimination because of his or her incapacity;
  • To have access to the courts;
  • To counsel;
  • To receive visitors and communicate with others;
  • To notice of all proceedings related to determination of capacity and guardianship, unless the court finds the incapacitated person lacks the ability to comprehend the notice; and
  • To privacy.

Under Florida Statute § 744.3215(2), rights that may be removed from a person by an order determining incapacity but not delegated to a guardian include the right:

  • To marry. If the right to enter into a contract has been removed, the right to marry is subject to court approval;
  • To vote;
  • To personally apply for government benefits;
  • To have a driver's license;
  • To travel; and
  • To seek or retain employment.

Florida Statute § 744.3215(3) states that the following rights may be removed from a person by an order determining incapacity and can be delegated to the guardian:

  • To contract;
  • To sue and defend lawsuits;
  • To apply for government benefits;
  • To manage property or to make any gift or disposition of property;
  • To determine his or her residence;
  • To consent to medical and mental health treatment; and
  • To make decisions about his or her social environment or other social aspects of his or her life.

Guardianship is only warranted if a court finds no less restrictive alternative—such as durable power of attorney, trust, health care surrogate or proxy, or other form of pre-need directive—to be appropriate and available.

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Guardianship of Minors in West Palm Beach

Florida Statute § 744.301 establishes that the mother and father jointly are natural guardians of their own children and of their adopted children, during minority. When parents die or become incapacitated, the court will appoint a guardian.

Under Florida Statute § 744.3021(1), a guardian for a minor may be appointed by the court without the necessity of adjudication pursuant to Florida Statute § 744.331 upon the petition of a parent, brother, sister, next of kin, or other person interested in the welfare of a minor. Any guardian appointed for a minor has the authority of a plenary guardian.

The person who is appointed to be the guardian of a minor does not necessarily have to be the same person who personally cares for the minor.

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Florida Guardianship Resources

Guardianship | Clerk & Comptroller, Palm Beach County — On this section of the Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller's Office website, you can find information about filing fees and download a list of registered professional guardians from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, Statewide Public Guardianship Office. Find information about guardianship of a minor, voluntary guardianship, and emergency temporary guardianship. You can also learn more about mental health in matters concerning guardianship of a person who has been determined by the court to be incapacitated.

Palm Beach County Clerk
205 N. Dixie Hwy.
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
(561) 355-2996

Probate Division | Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida — The Probate Division of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida handles all matters relating to the appointment of guardians in Palm Beach County. Use this website to access an ex parte calendar as well as probate forms and order. You can also view an approved professional guardian wheel.

Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida
205 N. Dixie Hwy.
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
(561) 355-2431

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Quality Family Law | West Palm Beach Guardianship Lawyer

Do you need help with a guardianship issue in South Florida? Make sure to contact Quality Family Law as soon as possible.

Our divorce attorneys in West Palm Beach represent individuals in communities all over Broward County, Miami-Dade County, and Palm Beach County, including Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Jupiter, Wellington, Boca Raton, and several others.

You can have our lawyers provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call (561) 557-8686 or complete an online form to schedule a free initial consultation.

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