Florida Guardianships: rules of evidence and examining committee reports
Florida has a number of retirees, and its elder community is large. As we live longer as a society, there is a great likelihood that we will become incapacitated, or incompetent, before we pass away. When that happens, documents like powers of attorney, living wills, health care proxies, and other “health care” documents which designate someone to make medical or health care decisions can become very important. When those documents are not present, it may be necessary to have a guardianship. (Admittedly, even when you do have POAs and health care docs, families “fight” over who will make personal and financial decisions for someone.) Regardless, when an incapacity petition is filed, the court appoints an examining committee which will issue written reports, after they meet with the alleged incapacitated person. In court, it’s important to remember that those documents, alone, are hearsay, and are not admissible for their truth. You actually need live testimony—the examining committee members should attend any hearing or trial and testify live. A 2012 case from Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal reminds us that in guardianship proceedings, the rules of evidence still apply. See Shen v Parkes, 100 So3d 1189. Advocate hard. Litigate smart.