According to Florida Courts, the state may decide that adult guardianship of an elderly person is best if a court determines that an elderly individual’s ability to make decisions is so compromised as to warrant the need for someone to do it on his or her behalf. The courts will only come to this conclusion if involved parties have exhausted all other alternatives, such as a trust, durable power of attorney, health care proxy or surrogate, or another form of pre-need directive.

If the courts ultimately decide that guardianship is best, it will consider two forms of guardianship: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary guardianship, which entails the elderly individual petitioning for a guardian him or herself, is the least restrictive and therefore the more favorable option. Unfortunately, once it gets to the point at which guardianship is necessary, an elderly individual is typically not in the right mindset to petition for care. When this happens, an adult loved one may wish to petition to serve as a guardian on the elderly person’s behalf.

FindLaw details who may petition for guardianship and what procedures a person must follow to do so. For Florida residents, the only requirement is that the petitioner is over the age of 18. For non-resident, the petitioner must be related by direct descent to the ward; be a spouse, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew of the ward; be an adoptive parent or legally adopted child of the ward; or be married to one of the aforementioned qualified individuals. The person must also have no criminal convictions on his or her record.

If a person is eligible, he or she must file three documents. The first is the Petition to Determine Incapacity, which basically states that the elderly person does, in fact, need a guardian. The second is a Petition for Appointment of Guardian, which asks the court to intervene. The third is the Application for Appointment as Guardian, which informs the court of why the petitioner is the best option as guardian.