I retained a lawyer to help me with being appointed guardian of my severely autistic son, who just turned 18. Now I am at the stage where I need to file the annual plan of care. My lawyer wants me to pay to retain him again for this service. I want to know can I just file this myself. And if so, what do I need an attorney for? Why, and how much, do I have to pay a lawyer just to "say" he is my lawyer, so the court is satisfied I have representation? This seems so ridiculous that I have to retain a lawyer for the rest of my life, just to satisfy some ruling that feels punitive. I have been caring for my son his whole life! absolutely nothing has changed, except his age! Please help me understand this...what my rights are, and what I am allowed to handle on my own?
Unfortunately, a lawyer is required to represent you as the guardian of your son. He or she is responsible for making sure the reports are filed on time and accurately. That being said there should be very little cost involved in making sure the form is provided, properly filled out and filed. Generally it is a function that the legal assistant takes care of under the supervision of the attorney. I have a guardianship very much like your and I believe our bill this year was $37.50. It was not the first year's report. Many times the first year is more expensive because of the information needed then the same information is used year after year with minor updates. Although I am not sure although you are represented by counsel, I believe you can file the report independently through the clerk without attorney signature as long as it is timely. You would need to provide the attorney representing you a copy. I suggest you call the clerks office in your area just to confirm.
This answer does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship. The answer is for information purposes only and is based on the limited information you provided. If you would like to discuss your Florida legal matter further please call my office at (904)353-0033 x 14.
I know this is very frustrating. Many parents share these same feelings. Although you have been caring for your son for years and all that has changed is his age, now that he is over the age of 18 years old you have new duties and responsibilities in order to continue doing what you have been doing for the past 18+ years.
If you are your son's guardian, you are required to be represented by an attorney.
However, you mentioned that your son is autistic. Did you get guardianship or a guardian advocacy? Was there an incapacity proceeding where 3 examining committee members evaluated your son to determine his incapacity?
If you are JUST guardian advocate of the person, you may not need to have an attorney, although I still feel it is wise to have one on hand. The law regarding the appointment of a guardian advocate of the person states that you need not be represented by an attorney unless required by the court or if the guardian advocate is delegated any rights regarding the property of your son.
If you have a guardian advocacy guardianship, you may not have to file annual reports,If the original court order stated that you do not have to file reports. If you are required to file reports, in addition to filing what is required, file a Petition requesting an order that no further reports are necessary. You do need an attorney and cannot represent yourself in a Florida guardianship. You may want to ask another guardianship attorney if the court allows guardian advocates to avoid filing annual reports. It may be that the attorney who originally repesented you wants to continue collecting fees for something that could be avoided. You may want to change attorneys. And, it also depends on the judge. Some judges want to see annual reports. You can certainly prepare your own report if one is necessary, but an attorney will have to file it. Good luck.