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Jacksonville Conservatorship Attorney

Understanding Conservatorships in Florida

Experiencing the unexplained disappearance of a loved one is harrowing and traumatic. Should a person remain missing, however, there are legal matters, including the victim’s financial affairs, that will eventually need to be addressed. The solution can be found in a legal relationship called a conservatorship.

In the state of Florida, a conservatorship is a legal relationship in which a court grants authority to an individual who will manage the estate of an “absentee.”

An absentee is defined as someone who:

  • Is a resident of Florida who has disappeared for an extended period under circumstances that suggest they have died, either naturally, accidentally, or intentionally as the result of foul play or another’s actions or under circumstances where amnesia, dementia, or other mental derangement may have led to the disappearance.
  • Is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, the Red Cross, or the Merchant Marine, and, in a scenario in which hostilities exist between the U.S. and another power, has gone missing in action, been captured by an enemy country, or been interned in a neutral country.

Not just anyone can successfully apply to take on a conservatorship, however. The state generally requires that the individual be of close relationship to the absentee, especially if they are dependent on their estate.

This means those eligible to take on a conservator typically have one of the following relationships with the absentee:

  • Parent
  • Sibling
  • Spouse
  • Adult child

To formally become a conservator, you must first petition the appropriate court. Your filing must include the circumstances of the absentee’s disappearance, including any appropriate documentation, as well as information on the absentee’s will and estate plan, which could in some cases identify who the absentee would prefer to handle their affairs should they become incapacitated. You will also have to inform other close members of the absentee’s family of your petition, giving them an opportunity to oppose if they so choose.

Next, a judge sets a hearing date, in which you will have to advocate for yourself on why you are the most appropriate choice for conservator. The judge will evaluate whether the missing person truly qualifies as an absentee under the terms set forth in Florida Statutes Chapter 747. Any registered objections will be reviewed at this time, and the judge will also consider possible conflicts of interest in your managing of the absentee’s assets. At the conclusion of the hearing, assuming the missing person is determined to be an absentee, a conservator will be appointed, should an appropriate party have petitioned.

The appointed conservator often gets full control over the absentee’s affairs. The court can also elect to limit the conservatorship’s abilities to certain categories, such as limiting influence over business assets.

Some of the areas in which conservatorships can govern an absentee’s estate include:

  • Management, investment, and sale of absentee’s assets
  • Collection of income on absentee’s behalf

Exploring a Conservatorship? We Can Help.

The process of filing a conservatorship petition and proving a loved one’s absentee status can be an arduous, confusing process at a time when you are still grieving their disappearance. Our Jacksonville conservatorship lawyer can help you prepare the necessary documents, prepare you for your hearing, and legally represent your interests throughout the process. We at Weldon Law Group, PLLC want what is best for you and your loved ones, and we have over 18 years of experience to help champion your case.

If you think your loved one may qualify as an absentee and are concerned about their affairs, do not wait. Dial (904) 204-3420 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with our Jacksonville conservator attorney.

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