Area 7 Family Care Council

Guardianship And Guardian Advocacy Information

Lighting the Way To Guardianship and Other Decision-Making Alternatives: A Manual for Individuals and Families is a book released in 2010 by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, in partnership with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Guardian Pooled Trust, Office of Public Guardian, and Statewide Public Guardian Office. The project was funded by the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities. This book explains the different types of protection and guardianship that are recognized by Florida courts. If you are just starting to learn about Guardianship options, this is an excellent place to start.

The Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida website has Guardian Advocate Instructions as well as examples of the types of forms that are used to file a petition to become a Guardian Advocate. You should certainly look through those documents to understand what kind of information and expectations you will face during the appointment process. Your new best friend, who you should treat with great respect, will be the Clerk in the probate and mental health department of your county courthouse. That individual will tell you exactly how many copies and which of those forms you actually need to fill out in advance, and which ones are done by the court. Please note that this changes and varies from county to county, so you really should ask and not assume. Also note that you may be expected to pay filing fees in cash.

If you decide to file for full plenary guardianship, you will certainly need a lawyer to go to court with you. If you decide to become a Guardian Advocate of Person Only, you may not need a lawyer. If you choose to become Guardian Advocate of Person and Property, you probably want to consult a lawyer, but they don't have to go to court with you. The individual who is the subject of the proceedings will be appointed their own lawyer. Unless the clerk somehow determines that you qualify for free services, you will be billed for that lawyer's representation. The local Legal Aid Society may be able to help you. You may also be required to attend an approved 8-hour guardianship training course at your own expense.

The Guardian Mentoring Association provides guardianship mentoring and training, including the Statewide Public Guardianship Office approved 8-hour guardianship training course. This group holds monthly meetings and scheduled events, and they also are instructors for the 40-hour Professional Guardian Course.

The Delmarva Foundation - Florida Statewide Quality Assurance Program has online training modules for providers, individuals and family members. The module on Protecting Individual Rights addresses guardianship, however the module was developed before the new Guardian Advocate rules were in place. Still good information, but just be aware.

Updated 1/31/2011
(c) 2011 Teri Doolittle, PA-C, MHP, DHSc