Did you know when your disabled child turns age 18, the legal age of majority in Florida, your right as the parent and natural guardian to make medical, educational, living and financial decisions for your disabled child ends, without regard to your child’s disabilities? When a child turns 18, the parents no longer have the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf. In order to continue making all of the critical decisions your disabled child requires concerning their care and daily maintenance, you must petition the court to become guardian advocate for your disabled adult child.
Guardian Advocate Proceeding
Guardian Advocate is a simplified guardianship procedure in Florida available specifically for adult persons with developmental disabilities, such as Autism, Celebral Pasy, Spina Bifida, Prader-Willi Syndrome and Aspergers. Guardian Advocate is a proceeeding under Chapter 393 of the Florida Statutes for family members, caregivers, or friends of individuals with a developmental disability to obtain the legal authority to act on their behalf. Unlike a full guardianship, a court does not have to declare the person with a developmental disability incapacitated. Instead, the focus is on the “decision-making” ability of the individual.
Who is developmentally disabled?
Under §393.063(9), 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, epilepsy, 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.
Guardian Advocate appointment
Becoming appointed guardian advocate for your adult child begins with filing a petition with the court and outlining the reasons a guardian advocate is necessary. Medical reports need to be filed to show the nature of your adult child’s disability. Both parents should consent to the petition (even if divorced) to avoid unnecessary litigation and time delays in appointing a guardian advocate for your adult child. An attorney (elisor) will be appointed by the court to meet with your adult child and represent his or her interests and make recommendations to the court on whether they believe the appointment of a guardian advocate for your adult child is appropriate.
Are there different types of Guardian Advocate?
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.
Guardian Advocate responsibilities
Even if you are the parent of the person with developmental disabilities, as a Guardian Advocate you are taking on fiduciary duties and must answer to the oversight of the court. Basically the Court wants to ensure that you, as your adult child’s guardian advocate, are acting in his or her best interests at all times. Your rights as a Guardian Advocate are limited by the Order and by the type of Guardian Advocacy. If you need greater rights, you will need to seek further approval from the court.Within 4 months of appointment, you may need to complete a court-approved guardianship education course. A Guardian Advocate must file an Initial Report within 60 days of appointment setting out the mental health, medical, social and personal care service needs of the person with developmental disabilities and how those will be met. A similar report needs to be filed with the Court annually.
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