A guardianship is a legal proceeding in the circuit courts of Florida in which a guardian is appointed to exercise the legal rights of an incapacitated person.   An incapacitated person is an adult who has been judicially determined to lack the capacity to manage at least some of his or her property or to meet at least some essential health and safety requirements.  While a guardian is an individual or institution (such as a nonprofit corporation or bank trust department) appointed by the court to care for an incapacitated person — called a ‘ward’ — or for the ward’s assets.

A Guardianship Attorney can counsel assist you with:

  • Limited guardianships  – A limited guardianship is appropriate if the court finds the ward lacks the capacity to do some, but not all, of the tasks necessary to care for his or her person or property; and if the individual does not have pre-planned, written instructions for all aspects of his or her life. 
  • Plenary guardianships –  A plenary guardian is a person appointed by the court to exercise all delegable legal rights and powers of the adult ward after the court makes a finding of incapacity. Wards in plenary guardianships are, by definition, unable to care for themselves.
  • Incapacity hearings – Florida Statutes outlines the legal process that must be followed in order to have an adult deemed incapacitated in Florida. Two separate petitions must be filed with the court by a concerned family member, friend, or other interested party to begin the process. They include a Petition to Determine Incapacity and a Petition for Appointment of Guardianship. Both of these petitions are then served upon the alleged incapacitated person as well as read to the alleged incapacitated person by a court appointed attorney appointed to look after the best interests of the alleged incapacitated person. The court appointed attorney must be part of the court’s attorney registry or belong to the office of criminal conflict and civil regional counsel. However, the alleged incapacitated person can always substitute their own personal attorney if they choose. The alleged incapacity person’s next of kin must also be notified of the Petition to Determine Incapacity and the Petition for Appointment of a Guardian.
  • Emergency temporary guardianship (ETG) hearings – Under Florida law, after the filing of a petition to determine incapacity, but prior to a permanent guardian being appointed, a probate court may appoint an emergency temporary guardian for the person and/or property of an alleged incapacitated person. Before the appointment of an emergency temporary guardian, the court must specifically find that there appears to be imminent danger that the physical or mental health or safety of the person will be seriously impaired, and/or the person’s property is in danger being wasted, misappropriated or lost.

The above are only a few of the issues a Guardianship Attorney can assist with. Should you require the assistance of counsel related to issues of incapacity or guardianship, please call Melissa O’Connor, P.A.  at 954-637-1300, or email us at