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Georgia Court Reconsiders Legality of Guardianship Over Former Florida Resident


There are situations where it may be necessary for a court to place an incapacitated adult under a legal guardianship. Florida law authorizes guardianships whenever a judge determines a ward–the adult subject of the proceedings–is physically or mentally unable to manage their needs for any reason. Because a guardianship can significantly restrict the ward’s rights, it is necessary for the person seeking the guardianship to go through a formal legal process.

It is always important to consult with an attorney before filing a guardianship petition. One reason is that a lawyer can advise you on the proper venue for seeking the guardianship. While in most cases, a guardianship case is properly heard in the county where the ward lives, there may be times when another county–or even a different state–has proper jurisdiction over the matter.

For example, the Georgia Court of Appeals recently addressed a guardianship petition where there was some dispute as to whether Georgia or Florida had jurisdiction. The ward in this case was “catastrophically injured” while living in Miami. He subsequently received medical treatment in Florida and was later transferred to a different facility in Georgia.

While residing at the Georgia facility, the ward’s parents filed a guardianship petition in the Georgia courts, seeking appointment as co-guardians and co-conservators under Georgia law. A Georgia judge agreed to name the parents as temporary co-guardians pending a final ruling on their petition.

In the meantime, the ward’s girlfriend objected to the Georgia guardianship proceedings. She had filed her own petition in the Florida courts, seeking to be named the ward’s guardian and conservator in this state. The girlfriend ended up dismissing her petition, but she still maintained the parents’ Georgia action was improper. Nevertheless, the Georgia court granted the parents’ petition.

The Georgia Court of Appeals, however, ruled the trial court’s decision was premature. The appeals court noted that there were still significant questions as to whether Georgia even had jurisdiction over the ward. It was undisputed that Georgia was not the ward’s “home state.” So in order to establish jurisdiction in Georgia, the parents needed to prove their son had a “significant connection” to Georgia.

The trial judge believed the fact the son was being treated in a Georgia hospital was significant enough. But the Court of Appeals said there were other factors to consider, including the location of the ward’s property, his legal ties to the state–e.g., where is registered to vote, files his taxes, et al.–and whether the ward would consider his connection to Georgia significant if he was not incapacitated. For these reasons, the appeals court said the trial judge needed to reconsider his decision to specifically address these and other necessary factors.

Speak with a Florida Guardianship Attorney Today

A guardianship or conservatorship dispute often places family members and other loved ones in a difficult position. Everyone wants to do right by their incapacitated family member. But there may be serious and substantial disagreements over the best way to proceed.

An experienced Fort Myers guardianship lawyer can help you in addressing these issues. Contact the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529 to schedule a free confidential consultation with a member of our legal team today.


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