Good morning, my name is Tom Mitchell; I’m a partner with the law firm of Waller & Mitchell in downtown New Port Richey, Florida. I want to speak to you today a little bit about what you have to do if an elderly member of your family, a parent perhaps, starts to lose the ability mentally or physically to take of themselves. If your family’s fortunate and the parent has done the proper planning, they may have a Power of Attorney in place, which means that the trusted family member whose been given that power can act on their behalf, but if there is no Power of Attorney, it may be necessary to file a guardianship action on behalf of the person.
Now a guardianship action is a court proceeding and what happens is that you need an attorney and the attorney prepares certain documents that are known as pleadings and the pleadings state that we believe this senior individual is incapacitated, that’s the technical word, doesn’t mean they’re mentally unable, doesn’t mean they’re physically unable, but it’s some combination typically of both. They have had a decline in mentation and they have the usual problems of the aging process. So we file these pleadings, we describe what we think the problem is, we list who the doctor is, we list who the family members are and at that point, those papers get filed with the court, the court then appoints a medical committee, a three person committee to examine the individual and make a recommendation as to whether or not a guardianship is needed. The court also appoints an individual, an attorney, to represent the alleged incapacitated person, just to make sure that they’re not some nice little old person that we are trying to steal all their money, and by the way, if you’re thinking of that, don’t do it in a guardianship, because the court supervises guardians very closely.
If you need to file guardianship action on behalf of one your parents who may be declining in their later years, you can contact me at Waller & Mitchell and we’ll be glad to take care of it for you. This is Tom Mitchell with the law firm of Waller & Mitchell in New Port Richey, Florida.