Palm Harbor Elder Guardianship Lawyer

Sherri M. Stinson, P.A. helps family members apply for elder guardianship to care for incapacitated loved ones.

Palm Harbor Elder Guardianship

Watching your loved ones grow older can be overwhelming. Cognitive decline is a normal sign of aging, causing once sharp minds to become hazy. While many seniors can still make decisions and manage their affairs, others become incapacitated. The cognitive decline is too significant, and they can no longer manage their health, financial, or personal needs. Sadly, many people never plan for situations where they cannot manage their own affairs. If your loved one is incapacitated, you can apply for guardianship. Your Palm Harbor elder guardianship lawyer can provide legal counsel to help you decide if guardianship is the right choice. Guardianship is an extreme measure.  However, if your loved one failed to do an estate plan or if there are family members either abusing the elder or fighting over him or her, then the only option is to seek guardianship. An attorney can help you petition the court and will represent you at the hearing. This is a long, challenging process, so having a lawyer by your side is not only required by Florida law but is also essential. 

Guardian Responsibilities

If you are appointed as a guardian, you will have numerous responsibilities. These responsibilities might include:

  • Managing property and finances
  • Handing health care needs
  • Ensuring the loved one has adequate housing
  • Taking care of personal needs
  • Submitting detailed plans and physician’s reports each year
Types of Adult Guardianships

Maintaining personal liberty and autonomy is essential. Because of that, Florida’s judges choose the least restrictive type of guardianship possible for incapacitated adults. When a judge determines that the adult can manage some but not all tasks, he or she will order a limited guardianship. There are two types of limited guardianships in Florida: of the person and of the property. This limits the decisions the guardian can make, allowing the individual to maintain some autonomy.

However, if the incapacitated person cannot manage any duties, the court will appoint a plenary guardian. Then, the guardian manages the person’s financial, health, and personal needs. This is the most restrictive type of guardianship and is only issued when the petitioner can prove that the individual cannot reasonably manage any duties or responsibilities.  

How to become a Guardian

Your Palm Harbor elder guardianship lawyer will walk you through the entire process. First, you need to file petitions to determine incapacity and to appoint a guardian. Then, the alleged incapacitated person will have to undergo a capacity and functional evaluation. Medical experts will perform the evaluation and submit a report. 

Then, you will need to attend a hearing. The judge will review your petition and the report from the expert panel before making a decision. If the judge determines that the person needs a guardian, he or she will then decide which type of guardian is necessary. Then, the court will make sure you meet the requirements to become a guardian. If so, you will then be responsible for making decisions and caring for your loved one.

Estate planning

Estate planning might be a frightening prospect. There are many reasons people don’t want to think about it, such as acknowledging your mortality or dealing with difficult family situations. However, the prospect of passing away without estate planning documents in place is even more terrifying.


 When you pass away, most of your assets that aren’t in a trust will have to go through probate. First, the court will validate your will, if applicable. Then, your personal representative will inventory the estate, settle debts, pay taxes, and distribute the property. With a will in place, the representative will distribute it based on your wishes.


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While you cannot eliminate the possibility of becoming incapacitated, you can maintain some control with a pre-need guardianship. This advanced directive allows you to choose who will become your guardian if you become incapacitated. Then, your loved ones won’t have to petition the court. Also, you won’t have to worry about getting forced into guardianship with someone who doesn’t have your best interests in mind. You will have control over the process, making it easier for you and your loved ones.


You will likely be required to get a bond before serving as a guardian. The bond protects the incapacitated individual and his or her property. If you act in an unethical or illegal manner, a claim can be filed against the bond. Then, the bond company will repay the estate for the incurred losses. The judge will determine the amount of the bond. Then, your Palm Harbor elder guardianship lawyer can help you obtain it.

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