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Guardianship vs Baker Act

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Hello, everyone. It’s Mark, and welcome back.

In this video, I want to talk to you about the Guardianship versus Baker Act. We get a lot of calls here at Baker Act Attorneys from people who want me to Baker Act their loved ones. They’re trying to get their loved ones some help to get them into treatment or take their medication.

|In theory, the Baker Act can do that, and so can Guardianship. The big difference between the two is that when it comes to the Baker Act, it’s the state of Florida taking custody of your loved ones and making decisions for them. What that means is, if you go ahead and Baker Act your loved one, one of two things will probably happen. First of all, they’re probably going to be held up to 72 hours, and then they’re going to get released, which doesn’t help them at all, or the state of Florida is going to potentially keep them up to six months which probably doesn’t help them either. What you were trying to do was get your loved one to help; you were trying to make sure that you had control of the situation, as opposed to the state having authority.

I’ve said in many videos before; the Baker Act is not a treatment statute. It is designed and only used in emergency circumstances. When it’s used appropriately, it’s beneficial. I always tell people that if it’s an emergency, you should call 9-1-1 and ask law enforcement to come down to your residence or wherever the location is. Let them determine whether or not your loved one meets the criteria. You can go to the courthouse and file this thing yourself, but again, you’re going to deal with a whole issue of 72 hours versus them getting locked up for six months.
If you’re looking to get your local help, the appropriate relief is to file for Guardianship. It gives you the ability to step into your loved one’s shoes, so if they’re over 18, they get to make decisions about their medical care, financial well-being, where they live, who they spend time with, and their ability to travel. But if someone has substance use or mental health disorder, perhaps, they’re not making decisions that you and I would consider objectively rational and probably not very good for them.

If you want to turn the time back to when they were under 18, and you could make decisions for them, you need to file for Guardianship. In the middle of this, and not to confuse you, if somebody is baker acted because law enforcement or a doctor decided to baker act them, you can still file for Guardianship. You should do it if you want to prevent the state from taking custody of your loved ones and keeping them. Let the court know that you’re willing to do that, and courts typically like to defer to the families. If you don’t take action, the state is going to take them from you, and they’ll do the job you could have done or should be doing. So, that’s a big difference, the state is taking control with the baker act, and with Guardianship, you’re going to take control. It’s entirely up to you which one of those options works best.

With that said, thanks for tuning in. See you in the next video.

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