How do you know if someone is considered legally incompetent?
Well, I’m gonna take the easy road first, as far as that’s concerned. If you’re under the age of eighteen in the state of Florida, you’re not an adult, and so legally you’re not competent to contract. And so you’re not legally competent. And when this comes in to play is whenever you’re to receive a great deal of money, then it may require a guardianship. If the minor is to receive, let’s say from an estate, an inheritance and the amount of money is less than $15,000, then the natural parents can accept this inheritance in behalf of the minor child, or the minor who is legally incompetent.
Also, when it comes to contracting, you can contract with a minor, however it’s not legally binding on the minor. After he turns – any time before age eighteen, he can disavow the contract. After he turns eighteen, he has a reasonable time in which to disavow the contract, or he can ratify the contract after he turns age eighteen.
Now as far as people, other people who are considered legally incompetent, that usually comes with an incapacity hearing; and it’s related to a guardianship proceeding, wherein the judge has a hearing and has a panel of three professional – mental health professionals. I believe it’s a psychiatrist and some other people serve on a panel, and they have a recommendation after they interview the alleged incapacitated person. In a guardianship proceeding, they appoint a lawyer to represent this person, and as a result of being incapacitated, the person loses all of their rights. And so it’s a trial and in order for the judge to consider that, since it’s a drastic measure, many times the judge will not declare somebody totally incapacitated, may still give them the right to do certain things such as vote and other matters. But you tell whether or not someone is legally incapacitated or incompetent by an order, which the judge enters finding that they’re incompetent.
So if you have any questions about capacity, incompetency, give my firm a call. It’s 727-847-2288. My associate, Jaleh Piran-Vesseh is one who handles elder law and guardianships