How to Complete the Guardian Advocacy Process Without an Attorney

Communication of the parent and adolescent, teenage girl talking with mom

What is a Guardian Advocate?

Parents do not have the legal authority to make choices for their kids once they turn 18 years of age. Guardian Advocacy is a process for family or relatives, caregivers, or long-time friends of people who happens to have manifested a developmental disability prior to becoming the age of majority, to obtain legal authority to act on their behalf in certain circumstances. For example, if the person should not be able to make some of their own decisions needed to care for themselves or their own property, it may be necessary to step in and advocate for them. This is a less alternative than having to have your loved one declared incapacitated. Pursuant to Florida Statute 393.12 and Chapter 744, you will find information outlined as governed by Florida law. It is advisable to initiate such Guardian Advocate proceeding within 180 days prior to the child’s 18th birthday if possible.

Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Become a Guardian Advocate?

The simple answer is No. The law states you can represent yourself in Florida as Guardian Advocate and file your own Petition for Appointment of Guardian Advocate and Appointment. The Court will appoint an attorney for the person with the disability during the court proceeding to protect the person’s best interest.  If you need assistance with filling out the proper guardian advocacy forms and filing them with the court, it is advised you obtain the services of a Florida Legal Document Preparer who is knowledgeable and experienced in this area. The person with the disability is generally deemed to be indigent, so there is no cost incurred for the court-appointed attorney’s fees in most cases. However, there may be a clerk of court filing fee of $235.

What Constitutes a Person to be Developmentally Disabled?

Generally, a person with a developmental disability must have Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Spina Bifida, Downs Syndrome, Phelan-McDermid syndrome, or Prader-Willi syndrome and/or an IQ less than 70, and generally expected for this to continue indefinitely.

What if the person with a developmental disability lacks the capacity to make any decisions?

A guardian advocate may be appointed if the person with one of these disabilities is not able to make their own decisions, either some or all. However, if you feel the person cannot make any decisions about his or her care, it may be more appropriate to contact a guardianship attorney to have a plenary guardian appointed. There are different Rules involved in this type of guardianship and it is required you hire an attorney in this instance.

What are the Powers and Duties of a Guardian Advocate?

The specific powers and responsibilities of a guardian advocate could include but are not limited to the following:

  • Filing an initial plan and annual reports
  • Making provisions for Medical
  • Making provisions for Mental Health
  • Making provisions for Dental
  • Personal Care of the person
  • Making Residential decisions on behalf of the person
  • Advocating on behalf of the person in Institutional and other settings
  • Making financial decisions on behalf of the person with a developmental disability
  • Making monetary decisions on behalf of person.

Who Can be a Guardian Advocate?

Any resident of the State of Florida who’s 18 years of age and of sound mind can apply as a Guardian Advocate. In addition, a non-resident may additionally serve if he or she is associated by means of blood, adoption or the laws of the State of Florida.

However, the court generally looks to someone as Guardian Advocate who:

  • Is related by blood or marriage to the person with a developmental incapacity;
  • Has applicable educational or expertise in this area;
  • Has the potential to manage the financial aspects; or
  • Has the capability to meet the necessities of the law and the specific needs of the person.

Is there Anyone who Cannot Serve as a Guardian Advocate?

If the person wanting to become Guardian Advocate has been convicted of a felony, the Court will not appoint them. Further, if the person has ever been judicially determined to have committed abuse, abandonment, or neglect against a child defined by Florida Law, they will not be able to act as a Guardian Advocate.

On a side note, anyone appointed as Guardian Advocate, must have submitted to a criminal background investigation and have completed a short course taught by a court-approved agency. The Initial Report is due to be filed within 60 days of appointment and the first annual report is due to be filed annually.

What Will a Florida Guardian Advocacy Legal Document Preparer do for Me?

The Florida Legal Document Preparer versed in Guardian Advocacy will assist you in preparing the following forms, just to name a few:

  • Application for Appointment as Guardian Advocate
  • Petition for Appointment of Guardian Advocate
  • Petition for Appointment Advocate of the Person
  • Order Appointing Attorney
  • Oath of Guardian Advocate; Designation and Acceptance of Resident Agent
  • Order appointing Guardian Advocate of the Person
  • Letters of Guardian Advocacy of the Person
  • Initial Guardian Advocacy Plan of the Person
  • Order Approving Initial Guardian Advocacy Plan of the Person

If you decide to hire South Florida Legal Doc Prep Services to assist in your Guardian Advocacy legal document preparation, we will offer you a low-cost flat fee in addition to filing the documents at Court. Additionally, once you are ready to file your first Annual Guardian Advocacy Plan and Order Approving Annual Guardian Advocacy Plan, we will be certain to offer you a discounted price.

This blog does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.

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