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Should You Consider Seeking a Guardianship?

August 31, 2020 CSBB Blog

It is never easy when a loved one is unable to care for themselves. Whether they are completely incapacitated or simply cannot be left alone, it is difficult to know how to help them or what to do. If you are in this situation, you should speak with a Palm Beach County guardianship attorney. They can help you understand your options and find a solution that ensures your loved one gets the care they need. 

Disabled Adult Children

Your child is considered an adult under Florida law once they turn 18. If they are disabled and unable to care for themselves, you need to obtain legal authority to make decisions for them and act on their behalf. Even though you have cared for your child their whole life and they obviously cannot care for themselves, you will still need to obtain some type of guardianship to continue caring for them. If you have a teenage child who is developmentally disabled and approaching adulthood, you should begin planning now so that they can continue to receive uninterrupted care.   

Aging Parents

As our parents age, many of us are faced with the uncomfortable reality that they may not be able to manage their own affairs or care for themselves. It is never easy to decide when they may need extra care or supervision. Some of the factors to consider include:

  • Neglected personal hygiene
  • Unsanitary home environment 
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Accidents that result in injury or the potential for serious injury occurring with increased frequency
  • Mishandled financial matters
  • Increased forgetfulness or disorientation
  • Significant behavioral changes
  • Paranoia, persistent fearfulness or agitation 
  • Deteriorating physical or mental health

Of course, these factors do not, by themselves, determine whether a guardianship is appropriate. However, they do raise concerns about your loved one’s ability to manage their lives and take care of themselves. If you are worried, stay in close contact with them and trust your instincts that they may need more help than before. 

You Have Options

Many people think that guardianship entails full control of a person’s life and property. While this is sometimes the case, there are often less-restrictive options available. For example, Florida law provides for the appointment of a guardian advocate, which is a less restrictive option than a full guardianship. This is often the best option for parents of a developmentally disabled adult child. The guardian advocate can be appointed if the child is able to manage some, but not all, of their affairs. In those situations, the guardian advocate will have the authority to make specific decisions on their behalf but will otherwise allow the child a certain degree of freedom and independence. However, in order to qualify for a guardian advocate under Florida law, your child’s developmental disability must have manifested itself before they turned 18.

For aging parents, you can avoid full guardianship if they have provided for their care in their estate planning documents. Powers of attorney, health care directives and other legal documents are enforceable and will be respected by hospitals, long-term care facilities, and any other institutions that can provide care to your loved one. 

Call a Palm Beach County Guardianship Attorney Today

At Comiter, Singer, Baseman & Braun, we understand how difficult it can be to make sure your loved ones get the appropriate care. That is why we are dedicated to helping you find the best possible solution. To discuss your loved one’s needs and whether a guardianship is appropriate, contact us at 561-626-2101 or toll-free at 800-226-1484 to speak with one of our attorneys.

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