West Palm Beach Guardianship Lawyers
A guardianship is the legal process, which permits a person to manage the personal or financial affairs, property and medical decisions of a minor or an incapacitated adult. The purpose of a guardianship is to ask the court to appoint someone to oversee the welfare of a person who is unable to take care of their own affairs and/or protect their own interests. Once a Guardian is appointed, the individual being supervised by the guardian is referred to as a “Ward.”
One of the most common types of guardianships typically involves a next of kin, or other person interested in the minor’s welfare, petitioning to be appointed as guardian over the minor children whose parents are unable to care for them. (Both parents may be seriously ill, incarcerated or even deceased.) Under the aforementioned circumstances, the court will determine whether the individual petitioning to be appointed as guardian meets the statutory requirements.
In cases involving minors, the court may appoint a guardian for a minor without an examining committee or conducting a hearing to determine incapacity under section 755.331 of the Florida Statutes. The court is also permitted to appoint a West Palm Beach guardianship attorney to represent the interests of the minor during a hearing on the petition for appointment of a guardian.
Another common type of guardianship involving a minor arises when a child has a claim for personal injury, property damage, wrongful death, or other causes of action. For example, if a minor is injured in an automobile accident and is offered a gross settlement exceeding $50,000, a parent or guardian of the minor must seek the court’s approval before accepting the settlement on behalf of the minor. Once a petition is filed, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the minor’s interest before the court approves the settlement. After the settlement is approved (depending on how the settlement was structured), a guardian, who meets the statutory requirements, will then be appointed to oversee the minor’s property and ensure that the proceeds are deposited in a financial institution designated by the court as the depository for the minor’s assets. Alternatively, if a cause of action is litigated, the court may also appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interest of the minor child while the case is being litigated in court.
Protecting and Preserving Family Relationships
The experienced and dedicated team at the Law Offices of James S Cunha, P.A. has helped many families throughout South Florida protect a family member by helping our clients obtain guardianships. Sometimes guardianships are opposed by the ward (protected party) or another family member, which may result in adversarial court proceedings. For example, parents who are struggling with drug addiction and are not able to care for their children may oppose grandparents or other relatives stepping in to try and protect their grandchildren.
The guardianship process can be difficult because it can pit family members against each other because of conflicting opinions about how to best avoid harm to children or incapacitated adults. Mr. Cunha and his legal team understands that complex family dynamics sometimes arise in guardianship proceedings and works to try and develop amicable resolutions to guardianship issues that provide protection and stability for the party at risk while preserving family relationships.
Understanding the Guardianship Process
A guardianship is initiated by filing a court petition to appoint a guardian, and the process is overseen by the court. If the court determines that a guardianship is necessary and appoints a guardian, the court will remove the decision-making authority over the ward and place that decision-making authority with the guardian. Another common use of the guardianship procedure is to protect seniors who have become unable to manage their own affairs and financial issues or to protect mentally incapacitated adults who are unable to do so because of serious injury or illness. Because a guardianship places an enormous amount of authority, power and responsibility for one’s well-being in the hands of another individual, it is important the process is carefully undertaken with all sides carefully looking out for the ward.
This means that every part of the guardianship process must be carefully managed and will be closely supervised by the court. Even the selection of the guardian must be carefully considered because of the enormous power and authority they will wield over the ward. Many times the most efficient and effective way to proceed through the guardianship process is to have the family agree on a specific family member who will serve as the guardian. While the court is not obligated to approve the guardian that the family selects, the court typically will approve a guardian that has the support of the rest of the family and meets the statutory requirements. When the family is in strong disagreement about who should be the guardian, the court can and may appoint a disinterested professional. This choice can have disadvantages because it can substantially increase the cost associated with the guardianship.
Guardianship Representation in South Florida
One of the more challenging guardianship scenarios occurs when an elderly family member is in need of a guardianship but refuses to consent to a guardian being appointed. In this situation, a hearing will be held to determine whether or not the potential ward has the ability to manage his or her own affairs. Sometimes if the person to be protected has substantial assets, there may be significant conflict in the family in terms of who should serve as the guardian. Mr. Cunha has extensive experience dealing with the sensitive family dynamics that may arise in a contested guardianship proceeding. Our guardianship team has had a great deal of success in finding constructive solutions that provide the protection that the ward of a guardianship needs while protecting the bonds that hold the family together.
At the Law Offices of James S Cunha, P.A. our team can walk you through the entire guardianship process to make sure that your loved one receives the care that they need and that their financial affairs are properly managed and assets are properly protected. Our office handles the entire guardianship process and provides a wide range of guardianship services, including the following:
- Filing a petition to have a guardian appointed
- Representing clients at guardianship hearings
- Preparing the inventory of a ward’s assets for the court
- Providing required accountings
- >Arranging for and filing appropriate tax returns
- Competently managing the ward’s assets
- Confirming that the guardian is performing their duties and responsibilities
- Providing representation for competency hearings
Guardianship proceedings often disturb the delicate dynamics of a family and pose a significant intrusion into a beloved family member’s independence and self-determination. Our experienced and compassionate team understands the delicate balance required to protect someone you love while also preserving the close family relationships that can be damaged in a contested guardianship.
Compassionate and Dedicated Legal Representation
Mr. Cunha and his legal team recognize that Palm Beach guardianship proceedings are a very sensitive and emotional issue. We are committed to protecting those who are unable to manage their own affairs while protecting close family relationships. Our Palm Beach guardianship law firm provides guardianship solutions based on carefully prepared guardianship filings and effective courtroom advocacy.
We are loyal and passionate about our clients’ cases and consistently seek the best possible resolution to family law matters, including those involving guardianship issues. We bring a substantial level of skill, knowledge and diligence along with the ability to think outside of the box so that we can be the most effective advocates for our clients. Contact us today.
The Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. assist clients with Family Law Matters, Divorce, Personal Injury Commercial Litigation matters, Business Law, Family Law, Wrongful Death, Estate Planning, Probate & Estate Administration, Tax Law, Insurance Regulation & Defense and Criminal Defense in West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Palm Beach Gardens, Boynton Beach, Jupiter, Delray Beach, Boca Raton in Palm Beach County. We also offer legal representation to clients who reside in Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Hendry, Broward, and Miami-Dade.