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99-year old Florida man gets out of court appointed guardianship

A Florida resident who had been involved in a court-appointed guardianship program, has been released from the program's restrictions. The man, who will turn 100 years old next April, went out for pizza to celebrate.

The man had reportedly been under a court guardianship order since 2010, when he supposedly attempted to sell his house for a price that was considered to be too low. He was placed under the care of a professional guardian he had never met. He eventually was put into an Alzheimer's unit by his guardian. Recently, however, he was reevaluated by a doctor, and found to have full mental capacity. As such, he was released from the guardianship. He says, though, that it was only the intervention of family and friends, as well as some news organizations that allowed him to take back control of his affairs. The man contends that once he was put into the guardianship he couldn't get out by himself, and that unless one has people advocating for one, the court can do anything it wants. The man's guardian says he now has an attorney working for his interests, so she will not object to the change in the man's status.

The thought that one may someday no longer be able to handle one's own affairs can be a frightening one. However, planning for possible incapacity may mean the difference between having some modicum of control over what happens, and having no say at all. While estate planning is often thought of as having mostly to do with material assets, proper estate plans will have provisions for the testator's incapacity as well. Important documents such as powers of attorney and living wills can help in mapping out how one will be taken care of if such incapacity occurs. Further, by planning for guardianship in advance, one can avoid having a court appoint a stranger to make such important decisions. The loss of freedom involved in adult guardianship can be somewhat alleviated if the person appointed as guardian is a trusted family member or friend.

Family members of someone who is incapacitated also should be aware that they can try to keep important life decisions of their loved one from being in the hands of a stranger. Everyone who has a loved one suffering from diminished capacity should explore all their legal options so as to ensure someone they trust is appointed as a guardian.

Source: abcactionnews.com, "Man enjoys first hours of freedom from Florida's Guardianship Program," Adam Walser, Dec. 6, 2013

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