Though Americans are living longer than ever, one downside is that more and more people are living with dementia in their final years. Dementia robs us of our memory, reasoning and dignity in many cases.
Among other things, symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and similar illnesses eventually make it impossible to handle our own financial affairs. For example, a person whose mental capacity has been diminished by dementia may be unable to set up or amend their own estate plan, even though important decisions may still have to be made.
To make sure the estate and the testator’s medical care is properly taken care of, Florida law allows guardianships to be created. A guardian has the legal authority to care for a person or property belonging to another person.
In some cases, the testator realizes that they are losing the ability to handle their own estate. They voluntarily request guardianship of their property, so that their estate will be safeguarded.
Often though, the testator is unable or unwilling to face the fact that they have become unfit to oversee their affairs. A concerned family member may petition the court for an involuntary guardianship.
Because of the serious implications of putting an adult’s legal rights in the hands of another person, this process has many procedural safeguards. For instance, both the petitioner and the allegedly incompetent person must be represented by an attorney.
As you can imagine, besides the procedural difficulties, attempting to get involuntary guardianship over a parent or other relative can be highly emotionally charged. An attorney who is experienced in these matters will know how to proceed with sensitivity and tact.