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Wesley Chapel Conservatorship Lawyer

A conservatorship is a legal tool enacted to preserve and protect the property of someone who has gone missing or disappeared and may be presumed to have died. In Florida, this includes people who have gone missing in action while serving in the Armed Forces, been captured by the enemy, or interned in a neutral country, as well as Florida residents who have disappeared under circumstances indicating they may have died naturally or accidentally or at the hand or another, or disappeared as a result of dementia, amnesia, or some other mental cause.

Seeking a conservatorship over the property of a loved one is an effective way to protect their assets should the person later be found or preserve their estate for their heirs if it turns out the person has died. In either event, conservatorship is a compassionate and thoughtful way to look out for the rights of others. Obtaining a conservatorship requires going to court and proving the need for it under Florida law, requiring the assistance of a skilled and knowledgeable attorney. For help in this complex area, count on the Wesley Chapel conservatorship lawyer at Messina Law Group to approach your case with care and concern, offering the assistance you need.

Florida Conservatorship Process

A conservatorship in Florida can only be granted by a Florida circuit court judge following the legal procedure outlined in Florida Statutes 747.01-747.052. In order for the court to act, it must be shown that either the missing person (known in Florida conservatorship law as an absentee) or the absentee’s spouse or next of kin is a legal resident of Florida, and also that the absentee has not given another person power of attorney over their property. It must also be shown that a necessity exists to care for the property or estate of the absentee. If these prerequisites are satisfied, a conservatorship proceeding can commence as follows:

  • Petition – Any person with an interest in the absentee’s property or estate (such as an heir) or any person who depends on the absentee for maintenance or support can file a petition for conservatorship. The petition should explain why the missing person qualifies as an absentee and why it is necessary to establish a conservatorship. The petition should name all the immediate family members or next of kin of the absentee, state whether or not the absentee has a will, and detail the property and assets of the absentee’s estate.
  • Notice – All persons named in the petition as family members or next of kin should be provided notice that a hearing will be held regarding the appointment of a conservatorship over the absentee’s estate.
  • Hearing – The Circuit Court judge holds a hearing and hears evidence on the question of whether the missing person is an absentee as defined in Florida law and on the question of who is entitled to be appointed as conservator.
  • Order of Appointment – If the court believes the missing person is an absentee and a conservatorship is necessary, the judge will appoint a conservator to take charge of the absentee’s estate and property under the supervision of the court. The conservator need not be a family member, but the court is required to give “due consideration” regarding whether one of the absentee’s next of kin is a “fit and proper person” and qualified to act as a conservator.

Estate Planning Can Avoid the Need for Conservatorship

Having to go to court for a conservatorship can be a stressful process during a difficult and emotional time, and there is no guarantee the court will decide a conservatorship is appropriate. By engaging in thoughtful and complete estate planning with a qualified estate planning attorney, the need for a conservator can largely be avoided. Legal instruments such as powers of attorney and trusts can ensure that a person’s property and estate are properly looked after in the event of their absence. Taking the time to create these documents now averts the need to take legal action during a crisis and ensures your estate will be looked after by people you trust in the manner of your choosing. The Wesley Chapel estate planning attorneys at Messina Law Group can guide you through comprehensive estate planning that makes sure you and your family are taken care of no matter what may come.

Contact Messina Law Group for Help With Conservatorship in Wesley Chapel

For thorough estate planning that avoids the need for conservatorship, or for help with conservatorship proceedings should the need arise, call Messina Law Group, and let our skilled and compassionate Wesley Chapel conservatorship lawyer guide you and assist you.

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