The Examining Committee in Guardianship Proceedings

The Examining Committee in Guardianship Proceedings - Reyes Law Group BLOG post by Melissa J. Garcia

An Examining Committee is appointed following strict guidelines.

I received two excellent questions in response to my article “Understanding Guardianship”.

1. How does the court determine who will comprise the examining committee? I imagine it must consist of medical experts but will it also include other professionals such as social workers? In other words, is it up to the presiding judge’s discretion or is there a strict guideline in place?
2. Is it common to have separate guardians over personal and property matters?

To answer the first question, there are very specific guidelines in play when a Court is tasked with appointing an Examining Committee. You are right to suggest the Examining Committee is comprised of medical experts.  As per section 744.331(3)(a), Florida Statues, the Examining Committee must include one psychiatrist or other physician. The two remaining members must be either a psychologist, gerontologist, another psychiatrist, or other physician, a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, licensed social worker, a person with an advanced degree in gerontology from an accredited institution of higher education, or other person who by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may, in the court’s discretion, advise the court in the form of an expert opinion.

To sum that up, the Court must appoint at least one psychiatrist or other physician and the other two members can be any combination from the list above.  However, the statute does not stop there, it requires at least one of the members to have extensive knowledge of the type of incapacity alleged in the petition (i.e. at least one doctor must have extensive knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease).  Further, none of the members can be related to or associated with the proposed guardian.  Last, Examining Committee members are required to complete a minimum of four hours of initial training and an additional two hours of continuing education during each two year period after the initial training.

As you can see, the Court has very specific instructions it must follow when appointing the Examining Committee Members. Section 744.331(3)(a)-(h), Florida Statutes has even more requirements if you are interested in reading about the actual examination process and examination reports presented to the Court.
To answer the second question, the appointment of two separate guardians, one over the person and one of the property, is not uncommon.  Many times there might be different family members who are intimately involved with different aspects of the incapacitated person’s life.  For example, a mother suffering from Alzheimer’s has two children. The daughter has always been her caretaker – taking her to doctor’s appointments, picking up her prescriptions, communicating with her physicians, etc.  Whereas, the son has always helped with her property – depositing into her bank account, helping her refinance her home, paying off a car, etc.  In this particular instance, it would make sense to have two separate guardians appointed.

The most important thing to remember with a guardianship proceeding is that everything is done in the best interest of the incapacitated person. If the Court determines the best way to protect their well-being is by appointing two guardians, then the Court will allow such an appointment.

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Melissa J. Ulloa is an Associate at Reyes Law Group focusing primarily on mortgage foreclosure defense and civil litigation. Carlos J. Reyes  is the Principal of the Reyes Law Group. He has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1988. Carlos has been awarded a rating of “AV Preeminent” which is the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards by Martindale-Hubbell – a well-recognized legal resource.  The balance of the RLG Legal Team includes attorney and the RLG Legal  Support Team to bring you a dedicated, experienced and dynamic legal team to handle your legal needs.

We also assist clients in the areas of: Civil LitigationReal Estate LitigationResidential Purchase & SalesCommercial Acquisitions & SalesResidential Landlord-Tenant LitigationCommercial Landlord-Tenant LitigationShort Sales NegotiationsLoan ModificationsFamily LawCorporate Work, and Labor & Employment Law.

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We are located at 150 S Pine Island Rd #210, Plantation, FL 33324

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Written by Reyes Law Group