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Where Tradition Meets the Future®

Exploring Alternatives to Guardianship in Florida for Adult Children with Disabilities

Adult Children with Disabilities - FamilyBy: Amanda Dorio, Esq.

When it comes to safeguarding the rights and independence of disabled adult children in Florida, guardianship is often considered the traditional route. However, parents should be aware of alternative options that can empower their adult children.

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney grants authority to another person, known as the agent or attorney-in-fact, to act on behalf of an individual. There are several reasons why a parent of a disabled child would want to consider having a power of attorney executed, namely:

  • Executing a power of attorney allows the adult child with disabilities to maintain a level of control over their affairs. It recognizes their capacity to make decisions while acknowledging that they may need support in certain areas. By designating a trusted agent, the individual can ensure their wishes and preferences are respected while having a safety net in place.
  • A power of attorney can be customized to suit the specific needs and circumstances of the adult child. It can grant the agent authority over specific matters, such as managing finances, making healthcare decisions, or handling legal affairs. This tailored approach ensures that the individual’s interests are protected in areas where they may require assistance.
  • For individuals with disabilities, maintaining consistent and coordinated care is vital. By appointing an agent through a power of attorney, parents can ensure that a designated person is responsible for overseeing their adult child’s well-being. This continuity of care helps navigate medical treatments, financial matters, and legal obligations seamlessly.
  • A power of attorney can empower the agent to access resources and services that benefit the adult child with disabilities. The agent can collaborate with healthcare providers, financial institutions, and other relevant organizations on behalf of the individual. This enables them to make informed decisions, advocate for necessary support, and ensure the individual’s needs are met.
  • Managing finances can be challenging for individuals with disabilities. By appointing an agent with a power of attorney, parents can designate someone to handle financial matters, such as paying bills, managing investments, and making financial decisions. This relieves the individual of the burden and complexity of financial management, ensuring their financial well-being is safeguarded.
  • In legal matters, having a trusted agent through a power of attorney can provide crucial representation for an adult child with disabilities. The agent can act on their behalf in legal proceedings, negotiate contracts, and handle legal documentation. This ensures that the individual’s rights and interests are protected in legal matters and promotes a sense of security.
  • Life is unpredictable, and emergencies can arise at any time. By executing a power of attorney in advance, parents can ensure a designated person is ready to act on their adult child’s behalf during unforeseen circumstances. This helps to minimize disruptions and ensures that decisions can be made promptly and in the individual’s best interests.

Having a power of attorney provides a legal framework that balances the individual’s capacity to make decisions while providing necessary support and assistance, ultimately promoting their well-being and respecting their wishes.

Healthcare Surrogacy

Healthcare surrogacy, often referred to as healthcare proxy, healthcare surrogate designation, or medical power of attorney, offers individuals with disabilities a valuable alternative to guardianship when it comes to healthcare decision-making. By executing a healthcare surrogacy document, an adult child can appoint a trusted surrogate to make medical decisions on their behalf in situations where they are unable to do so. This alternative ensures that their medical preferences and wishes are honored, empowering them to participate in decision-making while receiving the necessary guidance and advocacy.

  • Healthcare surrogacy allows individuals with disabilities to maintain control over their medical decisions. By selecting a trusted surrogate, they can ensure that their personal wishes and values are respected even when they are unable to communicate or make decisions themselves. This ensures that medical choices align with their individual beliefs and preferences.
  • The appointed healthcare surrogate acts as a trusted advocate, ensuring medical decisions are made in the individual’s best interest. They collaborate with healthcare providers, gather relevant information, and make informed choices based on the individual’s known preferences and medical history. This ensures that decisions align with the individual’s unique healthcare needs.
  • Having a designated healthcare surrogate helps to maintain continuity of care. The surrogate can work closely with medical professionals, coordinating treatment plans, facilitating communication, and ensuring that the individual’s healthcare needs are met consistently. This promotes a seamless healthcare experience and reduces the risk of fragmented or inconsistent care.
  • A healthcare surrogate plays a vital role in advocating for the individual’s healthcare rights and needs. They act as a liaison between the individual, healthcare providers, and other involved parties. The surrogate ensures that the individual’s concerns and preferences are effectively communicated and respected, facilitating a collaborative and patient-centered approach to healthcare.

By appointing a trusted surrogate, they ensure that their medical preferences and wishes are honored, allowing them to actively participate in decision-making while receiving the necessary guidance and advocacy.

Bottom Line

While guardianship has its place in protecting individuals with disabilities, it’s important for parents in Florida to offer pathways for individuals with disabilities to actively participate in their own lives while receiving the necessary support.

If you would like to explore alternatives to guardianship for your adult children, I may be reached at or by phone at 239-344-1362.

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