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Florida man seeks guardianship to care for father after coma

One Florida man recently learned the importance of establishing guardianship over a loved one after he saw his father miraculously recover from a 10-day coma. The elder man was diagnosed with dementia in December, and his children are now seeking guardianship over him to ensure that he continues to live with his family and receive much needed medical care.

The elderly man's wife had previously been granted guardianship, but in an emergency probate hearing, a judge revoked her rights as guardian and gave them to an independent guardian. The judge also ordered a review of the man's finances.

Often, when Florida residents petition for guardianship, they are seeking legal authority to act on behalf of a family member who may be unable to independently make important decisions due to incapacity. Mental health problems, such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease, are common causes of incapacity that prompt many Floridians to petition for guardianship over a parent or other family member.

Guardianships provide authority to make choices about personal and financial matters on behalf of those who are unable to make informed decisions for themselves. These decisions could relate to medical care, the execution of a will or the fulfillment of other legal documents. Beyond managing money and paying bills, the typical powers of a guardian usually include selling or leasing property, investing assets and executing contracts.

Although guardianships offer some relief to concerned families, establishing a comprehensive estate plan early in life can make many difficult decisions easier for loved ones. A comprehensive estate plan will address financial matters that may arise during a time of incapacity, as well as incorporate powers of attorney and advance directives to help ease the burden on family members in a time of emotionally challenging health care decisions.

Source: Detroit News, "Children seek custody of dad," Charles E. Ramirez, Jan. 31, 2012

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