Guardianship Information from Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD)
What are your rights? Your legal rights give you the ability, under law, to make decisions that affect your quality of life.
Some examples include, but are not limited to, the right to:
- Choose where to live
- Manage money and property
- Agree to medical or dental treatments
- Apply for government benefits
- Choose your social activities
- Sign contracts
- Get married
- Find employment
If you are seeking or receiving services from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) or other government agencies, you will have to make decisions, and you may feel that you need some assistance. This brochure informs you about ways you can get assistance with decision making; however, it is not legal advice. If any of these options seem like they might be useful, you may do research and speak with an attorney.
Client Advocacy - If you need guidance and would like help in making decisions about services you receive from APD, you may appoint someone as your client advocate. You will still make your own decisions. A client advocate cannot make them for you, nor can they access your confidential information without your permission.
Guardianship is an option for those who need help in decision making. It requires two actions by a court: a ruling on your decision-making ability and the transfer of some or all of your rights to the guardian.
Types of Guardianship Guardian Advocate - Under Florida law, this type of guardianship does not require that a judge declare you incapacitated. It transfers the rights that are necessary to care for you or your property to another person—your guardian advocate. This is usually considered to be the least restrictive, less costly, and much preferred type of guardianship for people with developmental disabilities.
- Voluntary Guardianship - If you are unable to manage your property but are considered mentally competent, the court appoints a guardian to help you manage your affairs. This is something that you decide voluntarily; you can change your mind by going back to court later.
- Emergency Temporary Guardianship - If you seem to be in imminent danger and your decision-making ability is questioned in court, the judge can appoint a temporary guardian for you. This type of guardianship expires if the court does not appoint a permanent guardian.
- Limited Guardianship - If the court finds that you are incapacitated only in specific areas, it can appoint a guardian to help you in those areas.
- Full Guardianship - If the court finds that you are totally unable to make decisions for yourself, it transfers all of your legal rights—concerning you and your property—to a guardian.
For more information:
Agency for Persons with Disabilities
4030 Esplanade Way, Suite 380
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0950