Central Florida Guardian Advocacy Attorney

Patriot Legal Group helps families navigate the guardian advocacy process in Central Florida. We understand that caring for a person with a disability can be overwhelming and we regularly advise parents, family members, and caregivers seeking to be appointed as guardian advocates. 

When you become our client, you will have access to an experienced guardian advocate attorney who will stand by you every step of the way.  Contact our office today to set up a consultation. 

What Is Guardian Advocacy?

Guardian advocacy is a type of guardianship available to families with a developmentally disabled family member over the age of 18 who was diagnosed with his or her disability as a minor.  Under Florida law, a person is considered to have a “developmental disability” if he or she has been diagnosed with a disorder or syndrome attributable to:

  • Intellectual disability
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Autism
  • Spina bifida
  • Down syndrome
  • Phelan-McDermid syndrome
  • Prader-Willi syndrome 

Moreover, the disability must constitute a substantial handicap that can reasonably be expected to continue indefinitely.  Once a disabled child or relative reaches the age of 18, parents no longer have the legal authority to make decisions on the child’s behalf without being appointed as guardian advocates.  Additionally, a court appointed guardian of a minor child may not retain their legal authority if the developmental disability was not considered previously.

How to Be Appointed

The process is begun by submitting a petition for guardian advocacy to the court along with the required documentation (e.g. background checks, fingerprints, guardianship education). The petition can be filed voluntarily by the disabled individual (the ward) or a parent, relative, caregiver, or friend who petitions on behalf of the ward. A hearing will be held to appoint the guardian advocate. In most cases, both the ward and the proposed advocate must be represented by an attorney.

Unlike a guardianship proceeding, however, the disabled individual is not declared incapacitated. 

Instead, the court considers the ward’s decision-making ability based on a letter from the child’s doctor outlining the diagnosis and prognosis of the child’s disability. The role of a guardian advocate is to assist those who have the capacity to make some decisions regarding their person or property. The judge will review the records and determine what rights the guardian advocate may exercise on behalf of the ward.

What are the powers and duties of a guardian advocate?

A guardian advocate has the same powers as a full guardian, except they are limited by the court’s order specifying the advocate’s decision-making authority. You can petition the court to be appointed guardian advocate of the person, the person, or both.

  • A guardian advocate of the person has authority over matters such as where the ward will live and necessary medical care and is also obligated to maintain the ward’s autonomy to the extent possible.
  • A guardian advocate of the property is authorized to make important financial decisions on behalf of the ward, such as managing bank accounts and real estate and paying bills and expenses.

It is important to note that guardian advocates have a legal responsibility to act in the best interest of the ward and are subject to court oversight.  In particular, as a guardian advocate, you must file an initial report with the court within 60 days of appointment, detailing the mental health, medical, financial, and personal care needs of the ward and how those needs will be met.  A similar report must be filed with the court annually thereafter. 

Also, you may be required to complete a court-approved guardianship education and training course. Ultimately, your rights as a guardian advocate are limited by the court order, and certain decisions cannot be made without court approval, such as changing the ward’s residence to a location outside of the county. 

Why Choose Patriot Legal Group for Guardian Advocacy?

Given the challenges of navigating the legal system and carrying out the responsibilities of being a guardian advocate, it is wise to have the compassionate representation we provide. Our legal team can help with completing and submitting the required application forms to the court and represent you at the hearing. You should know that your disabled loved one must also be represented by his or her own attorney or by a court-appointed lawyer.

Once you are appointed, we will provide ongoing counsel regarding any reporting requirements and circumstances that may arise, such as petitioning the court for additional powers if that becomes necessary. Above all, our veteran attorneys are well-aware of the challenges of caring for a disabled loved one and will work to help you fulfill your important duties as a guardian advocate. 

Contact Our Experienced Central Guardian Advocacy Attorneys

Whether you need assistance establishing a full guardianship or being appointed as a guardian advocate, trust our firm to provide you with trustworthy advice so that you can make the best decisions for your developmentally disabled loved one. Contact our office today to learn how we can help. 

Patriot Legal Group proudly serves clients throughout Florida, including Central Florida locations in and around our offices in Orlando, Tampa, and Auburndale.  The counties around our offices include Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, Brevard, Volusia, Polk, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Flagler, and Pasco.