When a child turns 18 years old and is considered an adult under Florida law, parents no longer have the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the child. If the child is developmentally disabled it becomes necessary (and very important) for parents to be able to obtain legal authority to act on behalf of their child.
Florida guardianship advocacy laws allow family members, caregivers, or friends of a person who is developmentally disabled to work with a Palm Beach County guardianship law firm to obtain this legal authority.
Guardian Advocacy Laws in Florida
Under Section 393.063(12), Florida Statutes, a “developmental disability” is defined as “a disorder/syndrome that is attributable to intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, autism, spina bifida, Down syndrome, Phelan-McDermid syndrome, or Prader-Willi syndrome.”
A developmental disability must manifest before the age of 18 and constitute a substantial handicap that can reasonably be expected to continue indefinitely.
Guardian advocacy differs from the “full” guardianship process because the court is not required to formally declare the developmentally disabled person as “incapacitated.” The focus is on the ability of the person to be able to make decisions. Guardian advocacy is a less intrusive and less costly alternative to full guardianship.
The Role of a Guardian Advocate
You can apply to be a guardian advocate of the person, property or both.
- A guardian advocate of a person is permitted to make personal decisions, such as living arrangements, medical treatment and social decisions.
- A guardian advocate of property is permitted to seek court approval to make property decisions.
Both types of guardian advocates can serve as the representative payee for purposes of seeking governmental benefits.
A guardian advocate serves in a fiduciary capacity and is subject to the oversight of the court. Annual reports are required to be filed for the court to review, which is the case even if the guardian advocate is the parent of the person with developmental disabilities. In addition, Florida law requires a non-professional guardian advocate to agree to a level two background screening (at his or her own expense, which includes a fingerprinting process) and provide a credit report.
Work with a Palm Beach County Guardianship Law Firm to Explore All Your Florida Guardianship Options
To learn more about Florida guardianship and how the process may be utilized to help your parent or loved one, contact a Palm Beach County guardianship law firm, either online or by calling us at 561-626-2101 or toll free at 800-226-1484. Comiter, Singer, Baseman & Braun works with clients throughout the state of Florida, including those in Boca Raton and Palm Beach Gardens.