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Establishing guardianship for your disabled adult child

Estate planning does not only cover wills and trusts but also guardianships for your disabled adult child. As you prepare for the future, it is important to include this step. You may have plans to ask a family member or friend to watch out for your child, but there is no guarantee the person will be willing or able to follow through when the time comes. It is best to establish guardianship legally to ensure the care and interests of your daughter or son.

What is guardianship?

Guardianship is not the same as caregiving. Caregiving, as the name implies, comprises of giving continual physical care for the disabled person. Guardians do not have to be caregivers. Rather, the purpose of guardians is to help make or carry out decisions only in cases where the person, or ward, is unable to on his or her own so the ward still has as much independence as possible.

Examples of such decisions include finances, medical services, education and residence. The guardian also ensures the ward receives proper physical care, protects the ward from predators and provides updates to the court on the ward's physical, mental and financial conditions.

Who should be a guardian?

There are many things to consider as you decide who should be your adult child's guardian:

  • Is the person willing and able to be a guardian?
  • Is the person honest and trustworthy with no history of criminal activity, on or off record?
  • Is the person responsible and reliable?
  • Does the person understand the duties involved and how to fulfill them?
  • Does your child feel comfortable with the person?

Guardians do not need to be relatives; they can be professional guardians. They can also be institutions, though usually only for handling financial matters.

How can an attorney help?

There are many laws about guardianship in Florida and legal proceedings involved, so hiring an attorney is a smart choice to make sure you establish guardianship properly. An attorney can also manage all affairs regarding guardianship so the courts and guardian honor your wishes. If the guardian ever acts inappropriately or fails to complete duties, an attorney can request the courts to remove the person from the role and appoint someone else instead.

Your adult son or daughter deserves to have a respectful guardian who truly acts in the best interest of your child. By doing your research and using legal assistance, you increase the chances of this happening so you can have peace of mind that your disabled child will receive trusting care.

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