Guardian Advocacy in Florida

Continue caring for children with disabilities after they turn 18.

Guardian Advocacy is a process under §393.12 of the Florida Statutes as well as Florida Statutes, Chapter 744 that allows for family members, caregivers, and friends of a child with a developmental disability to obtain the legal authority to act on their behalf. A child is considered to have a developmental disability if they have an Intellectual Disability (IQ less than 70), Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome, Phelan-McDermid syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, or Spina Bifida that manifested before they turned 18.

There Are 3 Types of Guardian Advocacy

Guardian Advocate of the Person
Guardian Advocate of the Property
Guardian Advocate of the Person and Property

Guardian Advocacy is similar to Guardianship, but it is easier to implement. Similar to Guardianship, the court will only remove the rights that your child cannot manage after they turn 18.

A Guardian Advocate for a person with a developmental disability has the same powers, duties, and responsibilities required of a Guardian and those determined by a judge. This includes creating an initial plan and annual reports, making decisions for medical care, making decisions about where to live, making decisions about how to spend money, and advocating on their behalf. Unlike Guardianship, Guardian Advocacy does not require a capacity hearing.

The Guardian Advocate's Duties

Once the court appoints a Guardian Advocate, there are immediate action items, as well as tasks that need to be performed every year. Within 60 days of appointment, the Guardian Advocate must file an initial inventory that lists the assets the person has, including property if relevant, as well as an initial plan for the services the person will need during the next 12 months.

This includes medical expenses, mental health expenses, and social or personal needs. The Courts must provide permission before any assets can be spent. The plan and accounting records must be updated with the Courts annually.

The Petition Requirements

Per Florida Probate Rule 5.649, a petition may be executed by a resident of Florida that would appoint a guardian advocate for a person with a developmental disability.

The petition must include:


  • Name, age, address of the petitioner and the petitioner’s relationship to the person with a developmental disability;
  • Name, age, address, county, and address of the person with a developmental disability;
  • The petitioner’s belief that the person needs a Guardian Advocate and the relevant, factual information on which the belief is based;
  • The specific areas in which the person is not able to make informed decisions about their own care and treatments or if they are unable to meet the essential requirements for their health or safety;
  • The person’s legal disabilities;
  • If the person has property and the Guardian Advocate is seeking control of the property, include a description of the property and reason why management or control should be placed with a Guardian Advocate;
  • The proposed Guardian Advocate and relationship to the person with the developmental disability, the relationship to providers of health care services, residential services, or other services needed for the person with developmental disabilities, and the reason why the proposed Guardian Advocate should be appointed. If there is not a willing or qualified candidate for a Guardian Advocate, be sure to state that in the petition;
  • If there is knowledge that the person has an advanced directive or health care surrogate, the petitioner will need to include why these documents are insufficient;
  • If there is knowledge that the person has a preneed guardian designation; and
  • If the petitioner is seeking periodic support of the person with a developmental disability.

Experienced Guardianship Attorneys in Jacksonville, FL

If you have a child with a developmental disability and they are nearing their 18th birthday, contact DiFranza Law today to speak with our Guardianship Attorneys. We work with families in Jacksonville and throughout the State of Florida to assist them with becoming Guardian Advocates for their loved ones with developmental disabilities.


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