How is a person identified as incapacitated?

Like many other Florida residents, you may have a family member with a condition that renders that person unable to properly care for themselves. This can happen due to an accident, illness or even a congenital problem like a birth defect. No matter the reason, it is important to help make sure your loved one is properly cared for. Establishing a guardianship can be one way of doing this. You or someone else can be named as a legal guardian for children, parents and others. It is also possible for a court appointed guardian to be named for an incapacitated individual.

The Florida Bar notes that the process of identifying incapacity begins with the development of a panel that conducts investigations and examinations. This is a committee of four people, three of which must be doctors. At least one of the members must possess specific expertise that directly relates to the nature of the alleged incapacitation. Mental and physical health is examined and functional abilities are assessed.


A ruling by the committee stating that a person is not incapacitated means that the person is deemed able to keep themselves safe and healthy. This ruling results in an automatic dismissal of the original request. A ruling by the committee that agrees with the allegation of incapacitation is then followed by another process. This establishes the extent of the incapacitation as either total or partial. In most cases, a guardian is then named. In some cases, other solutions can provide for the full safety and health of the individual.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but general information about how incapacitation is determined in Florida guardianship cases.

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