The path to a guardianship begins with a petition to determine incapacity. Next, there is an examination of the alleged incapacitated person by a three-person examining committee. Finally, there is a hearing on the matter where there must be clear and convincing evidence that the alleged incapacitated person is in fact incapacitated and that their rights should be removed.
The process of obtaining a court appointed guardianship is not easy. Courts view the removal of a person’s rights as a final option and do not grant guardianships without conducting a thorough review and exhausting all other options. The court places an extremely high value on protecting the alleged incapacitated person and their rights. A person alleged to be incapacitated is entitled to procedural due process in determining incapacity. According to Florida Statute, an alleged incapacitated person has the right to:
(1) Remain silent and refuse to testify at the hearing. The person may not be held in contempt of court or otherwise penalized for refusing to testify. Refusal to testify may not be used as evidence of incapacity; (2) Testify; (3) Present evidence; (4) Call witnesses; (5) Confront and cross-examine all witnesses; and (6) Have the hearing open or closed as she or he may choose. Fla. Stat. § 744.1095.