It can be difficult when a person begins to notice for the first time that the physical or mental abilities of a loved one are perhaps starting to deteriorate. For instance, maybe they notice their loved one having difficulty performing a regular household chore or failing to recall the name of a family member during a conversation.
Despite this twinge of sadness that may be felt, an isolated incident here or there likely isn’t cause for alarm or action. What happens, however, when these incidents become more common and more pronounced, such that you have concerns about the ability of the loved one to care for himself or herself?
The good news is that people in this situation do have viable options under Florida law, including seeking what is known as a guardianship.
For those unfamiliar with this term, a guardianship is essentially a legal process through which someone -- a guardian -- is appointed to provide care for and manage the assets of an incapacitated person.
The determination as to whether a person is incapacitated, meaning they essentially lack the ability to manage their personal welfare and/or their personal property, is ultimately up to a judge.
However, any legal proceeding to determine whether a person is incapacitated and, by extension, whether a guardianship is necessary, will only be held after a concerned adult files a petition with the court that 1) sets forth the factual basis as to why they believe the person is incapacitated and 2) asks for a judicial determination.
We will continue to examine this topic in future posts, including exploring the legal process by which a court determines incapacity and the responsibilities of those ultimately appointed guardians.
To learn more about guardianships or other tools that can be utilized to plan for incapacity, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional.