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When should you request a guardianship over a loved one?

If you're a regular visitor to our blog then you may have read our two part series on guardianships. For those who are new to our blog, in the posts, we talked about what a guardianship is and the legal responsibilities that come with it. We had hoped that our posts would give readers in Brevard County an idea of the legal options they have in Florida, especially when it comes to old age and end-of-life decisions.

But we understand that it isn't just retirees who may have a curiosity about guardianships. A retiree's loved ones may have just as many concerns about end-of-life decisions and may also have questions about the legal options at their disposal. If you have a loved one you think might benefit from a guardianship then today's post is the one for you because we're going to look at when to ask the court to grant a guardianship.

As we explained in our two-part series, the court may grant a guardianship in the event that a medical exam shows a person to be incapacitated. The purpose of a guardianship is to have a guardian -- oftentimes a family member -- do what is in the ward's best interests, making decisions for the ward because they are unable to.

So when should someone ask the court to grant a guardianship? In many cases, guardianship requests are best made when an elderly person does not have any health care directives in place or they have not given powers of attorney to someone else, explains Because a person must be considered incapacitated by a medical professional, most people often need to wait until their loved one succumbs to an illness that affects their ability to make rational decisions regarding their health care or finances, such as in the case of Alzheimer's or dementia.

But as you may have gathered from a February post about the Terri Schiavo case, incapacitation may occur because of a serious accident as well. This is another scenario in which a family member may want to reach out to the court and request guardianship over their loved one.

However incapacitation occurs, it's important to talk to a lawyer regarding the process so that you know what you'll be up against and what you will be responsible for in the event a guardianship is granted.

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