Who Needs a Guardian Advocate?

Some young adults who have a “developmental disability” may not be able to manage their financial affairs, and may not be able to make their own medical decisions. When a child turns eighteen years old, they are presumed to be able to make adult decisions even if they have a developmental disability. Florida law says “Developmental disability means a disorder or syndrome that is attributable to intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, autism, spina bifida, Down syndrome, Phelan‑McDermid syndrome, or Prader‑Willi syndrome; that manifests before the age of 18; and that constitutes a substantial handicap that can reasonably be expected to continue indefinitely.”

What is a Guardian Advocate?

Young adults with a developmental disability who need someone to manage their affairs and make their medical decisions can have Guardian Advocate appointed by the Court to act on their behalf. Typically one or both parents of the young adult with a developmental disability petition the Court to be appointed guardian advocate, or co-guardian advocates, for their child. A petition for appointment as a guardian advocate may be filed with the Court up to six months before a child with a developmental disability turns 18 years old.

Florida law says “A circuit court may appoint a guardian advocate, without an adjudication of incapacity, for a person with developmental disabilities, if the person lacks the decision making ability to do some, but not all, of the decision making tasks necessary to care for his or her person or property or if the person has voluntarily petitioned for the appointment of a guardian advocate.” Our office has worked with many families in guardian advocacy cases. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like more information about guardian advocacy or about a guardianship lawyer.

If you have questions about Guardian Advocacy, please contact our office.

A baby holding the finger of a person's hand upclose.