Elder law involves the legal issues surrounding health and personal care planning for the aging, ill, and incapacitated. Some of these issues include estate and financial planning, guardianship, Medicaid planning, long-term care facilities, and probate and trust administration. Elder law representation requires an attorney to provide a sensitive and caring approach to the client and the client’s family. Our office provides these legal services with a personal level of care, to include home and facility visits to meet with our clients.
One area that typically falls under the elder law umbrella is guardianship. Guardianship is a legal proceeding in which the court determines whether an individual is legally incapacitated and is therefore unable to make certain decisions on their own behalf. If the individual is declared incapacitated, the court will then appoint a guardian to exercise certain rights on behalf of the incapacitated person (known as the “Ward”) to manage their finances, property, and health care.
If a family member or loved one is unable to make these important decisions due to incompetency, illness, or age, we can help the Guardian through this court process. We will make sure the Guardian is clear about his or her legal responsibilities to the Ward and to the court. By working with the Guardian and other close family members, we can attempt to avoid potential disputes and help your family during this emotional and difficult time.
In guardianship proceedings, the Ward also needs a strong advocate on his or her side to ensure that the individual requesting to be appointed as the guardian truly has the best interests of the Ward in mind. We also represent wards in guardianship proceedings. Even if the court determines that the Ward is incapacitated and needs a guardian, there may be certain rights the Ward is still fully capable of exercising. If you or a loved one have been named as an alleged incapacitated person, you will need an attorney to make sure you or your loved one’s rights are protected and the guardian is complying with his or her legal responsibilities.
Florida enacted the Adult Protective Service Act in order to protect those Floridians who, because of age or disability, are prone to exploitation by others. The goal of this Act is to protect vulnerable adults from abuse, exploitation, and neglect. Abuse can be physical, mental, or emotional. Exploitation can involve the misuse of a power of attorney, taking of money or assets, or the intentional or negligent failure to effectively use the adult’s income or assets to provide for their care. The Act imposes on any person who knows or who has reasonable cause to suspect that a vulnerable adult has been or is being abused, neglected, or exploited a mandatory obligation to call the central abuse hotline.
In addition to the mandatory reporting requirement, the Act provides that a civil action can be brought against the perpetrator for actual and punitive damages for such abuse, neglect, and exploitation. If you suspect that someone you know or love is being taken advantage of due to their age, illness, or disability, you should first call the central abuse hotline at (800) 962-2873 and then call our office to meet with our attorney.