Can a guardianship proceeding be contested?
Yes: any interested person can contest the appointment of a guardian for a given ward, just as any interested person can petition the court to declare that ward incapacitated and in need of a guardian.
The process of determining the capacity of the ward begins with a petition for incapacity, which initiates the appointment of a three-person committee to examine the ward. This committee is made up of at least one psychiatrist or physician and two other health care professionals. Should the majority of the committee members find the ward to be of sufficient capacity, the guardianship proceeding will stop; however, if the majority finds the ward to be incapacitated, the proceeding will continue.
What follows is a final evidentiary hearing on the ward’s incapacity. Here, any person contesting the incapacity of the ward is permitted to present evidence and witnesses to the court. If the alleged incapacitated person is still found to be incapacitated, the guardianship hearing comes next. Florida practice is to pursue lesser restrictive alternatives short of full-fledged guardianship first – but, if a guardian is eventually appointed, the right to appeal remains open. Even after a guardianship is in place, any interested person, including the ward, may file a suggestion of capacity, which could ultimately result in the termination of the guardianship should the court find the ward to have restored capacity. The attorneys at Bach, Jacobs & Byrne, P.A. are experienced guardianship litigators and can represent parties to a contested Florida guardianship.