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Tampa Probate Lawyer / Tampa Guardianship Lawyer

Tampa Guardianship Lawyer

Whether due to accident, illness, developmental disabilities, or age-related mental and physical decline, over a million people in the United States are currently under legal guardianship. Guardianship ensures that people who can’t manage their own affairs have someone in their life with the legal authority to manage their finances and make legal decisions on their behalf as needed. The estate planning attorneys at Messina Law Group take proactive steps to keep the need for guardianship from arising, but when a need does exist, our experienced team can guide you through the process to establish guardianship smoothly and successfully in your loved one’s best interests. Contact our experienced Tampa guardianship lawyer today.

What Is Guardianship?

Guardianship is a legal process where a court appoints an individual or entity, known as a guardian, to manage the affairs of a person deemed incapable of making decisions for themselves, referred to as a ward. This arrangement can cover personal, financial, and medical decisions, depending on the needs of the ward and the scope of the guardianship order. In a “plenary” guardianship, the court grants the guardian full authority over both the personal and financial matters of the ward to the fullest extent of the law. In contrast, through a limited guardianship, the court specifies particular areas where the guardian has decision-making powers, allowing the ward to retain some level of autonomy to the extent of their abilities.

Establishing Guardianship in Tampa

The process of establishing guardianship in Tampa involves several steps:

  1. Petition for Guardianship: The process begins with filing a petition in the local circuit court, such as the Hillsborough County Circuit Court in Tampa, outlining the reasons for the guardianship request.
  2. Examination Committee: Upon petition to the Florida Mental Health Department, the department will appoint a committee of professionals to assess the alleged incapacity of the individual. This committee reports to the court regarding whether it recommends guardianship.
  3. Hearing: A hearing is conducted where the court reviews the committee’s findings and hears testimony from relevant parties.
  4. Appointment: If the court determines that guardianship is necessary, it will appoint a suitable guardian and issue an order outlining the guardian’s powers and responsibilities.

Duties and Responsibilities of a Guardian

A guardian in Tampa has several important responsibilities, including deciding on the ward’s healthcare, living arrangements, and education. The guardian might also be in charge of handling the ward’s financial matters, including budgeting, investing, and paying bills. The guardian will also have a duty to provide regular updates to the court about the ward’s condition and the management of their affairs.

Alternatives to Guardianship

With appropriate planning, it’s possible to create less restrictive alternatives to guardianship that avoid having to go to court while still making sure the person in need is adequately looked after. The estate planning attorneys at Messina Law Group can help avoid the need for guardianship by crafting legal instruments such as:

  • Durable Power of Attorney: Allows an individual to designate someone to manage their financial and legal affairs in the event of incapacity.
  • Health Care Surrogate: Appoints a representative to make medical decisions on behalf of an individual if they are unable to do so themselves.
  • Living Trust: Enables a person to manage their assets during their lifetime and distribute them according to their wishes upon their death, without the need for court intervention.

Contact Messina Law Group for Help With Guardianship Matters in Tampa

Addressing the need for guardianship is a vital component of estate planning, providing a legal framework to protect the interests of those unable to care for themselves. Whether you are addressing an immediate need for guardianship or exploring alternatives for the future, it is essential to seek the guidance of a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorney. With the right legal support, you can navigate the complexities of guardianship and ensure the well-being and security of your loved ones. In Tampa, call Messina Law Group at 813-492-7798 to share your needs and concerns with our compassionate and dedicated Tampa guardianship lawyer.

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