A guardian advocate in the State of Florida is a court appointed individual that assists persons with developmental disabilities or mental illness. Unlike a guardianship proceeding, the person with a developmental disability or mental illness is not declared incapacitated by the court. The purpose of a guardian advocate is to assist those that have the capacity to make some, but not all, decisions regarding their person or property. A person with a disability can voluntarily petition the court for a guardian advocate or a loved one like a parent can petition on their behalf. At a court proceeding for a guardian advocate, a judge will review the records and decide what rights the guardian advocate may exercise on behalf of the person. There are specific diagnoses that meet the criteria for an appointment of a guardian advocate. Whether a guardian advocacy proceeding is appropriate can be determined by reviewing the legal standards with an Attorney. Typically a guardian advocacy is appropriate for a person who has an intellectual disability diagnosed prior to the age of 18.
During a guardian advocacy proceeding, the court will appoint an attorney to represent the person with the disability if they are unable to secure an attorney on their own, to ensure that their rights are protected. A guardian advocate is usually a qualified family member, caregiver or friend of an individual that has the experience and capacity to meet the needs of the individual. A guardian advocate has the responsibility to file annual plans and reports with the court in those areas that the judge deems appropriate. This can include provisions for medical, mental health, dental and personal care of the person, residential decisions and/or financial decisions. Guardian advocates are mandated to attend instructions and education regarding their role, by a court approved organization.
The role of an attorney for a person with disabilities is to advocate for their rights. Finley Law LLC has over twenty years of experience advocating for the most vulnerable populations. They understand that caring for a person with disabilities can be overwhelming and they will assist with making the transition to become a guardian advocate as stress free as possible. If you have a disabled child or relative that has reached the age of 18, you are no longer legally authorized to make their decisions without a guardian advocacy in place. Contact our office for a consultation to discuss your unique situation so that we can help you plan to legally remain active decision makes in their lives.
To speak with a DeLand elder law lawyer about your wishes for your when or should you need incapacity planning, call Finley Law LLC at 386-734-5959.