Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Guest Column



Do any of you care for your elders, have a loved one that has either had a horrific accident or has fallen ill and you are not able to care for them as you had in the past, or have a disabled child over the age of 18? Do you now have to prove you have the authority to care for them by having proper court documents in place? This is usually the time when some form of “Guardianship” is discussed and required.

Guardianship is a court proceeding that would require to be set up if your loved one were to fall ill, get into an accident or some other life altering incident and they lack the capacity to manage their property or essential health and safety requirements. The guardianship process involves two main steps. The first step involves the determination of incapacity by a three-member examining committee appointed by the court. The court will then determine whether the proposed guardian is duly qualified to serve. Any adult resident of Florida or a close relative of the ward who does not live in the Sunshine State may serve as a guardian.

Depending on the determination by the court and on the needs of the ward, the court may appoint a guardian of the person only, a guardian of the property only, or both a guardian of the person and property. The guardian of the person is responsible of the personal rights of the ward that have been removed by the court. These include but are not limited to, the right to contract, to apply for government benefits, to sue and defend lawsuits, to determine his or her residence, to consent to medical or mental health treatment, and to make decisions concerning his or her social environment.

Once appointed by the court, the guardian of the property is responsible only for the rights that have been removed from the ward by the court. They must take proper steps to identify and locate all of the assets of the ward and ensure its protection. However, the guardian of the property does not have the authority to sell, transfer, mortgage or donate any of the ward’s property without prior approval from the court.

Other types of guardianship include guardian of the minor where a minor receives a gross settlement in excess of $15,000 as a result of a personal injury, property damage or wrongful death. The court, without adjudication of incapacity, may appoint a parent, sibling, next of kin or another person interested in the minor’s welfare as the guardian, and terminates when the child reaches the age of majority.

Lastly, sometimes a guardian advocacy may be appropriate for those individuals with a developmental disability as defined by the Florida Statutes and who has turned 18. Once that individual becomes an adult, their parent no longer has the legal ability to make decisions for them even though the parents have been doing so since birth.

Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will, Health Care Surrogate and a Declaration Naming Preneed Guardian are some of the most important documents that can save some time, efforts and unnecessary Guardianships in most situations. They would help to minimize the stress for your family to care for you if you no longer can take care of yourself or make those life altering decisions. Nevertheless, depending on the particular circumstances, some form of guardianship may be necessary.

Please note that all facts above are general in nature and that all cases are unique. Before making a decision on any legal matter on your own, you are advised to consult with an attorney. Tara Rao, immediate past president of the South Asian Bar Association of Florida (, is an attorney in the Lutz area, and concentrates her practice in Probate, Guardianship, Estate and Business Planning. She can be reached at (813) 960-8726 or email

Guest Column


Kunal Jain


My husband's older cousin is visiting from India and the topic of what I do for a living always seems to get some good conversations and questions rolling. Believe me: I know it's not because of me. It's because the concept of being healthy is en vogue these days. People are seeing the weaknesses of a disease-based health care model, and those who have experienced or have been exposed to Eastern healing traditions are wondering how to blend both. Back to the story…

It’s a funny thing. As a well-trained Indian woman, I know I am to serve some special feast befitting of the guest in our house. However, I struggle with my good conscience if I have to feed those I care for meals with high sugar, high fat, or low nutritional content, especially with what I know about genuine nourishment. So, I have taken the position to present healthier versions of Indian meals (and even Mexican, Italian or Continental as my India family says), and as par for the course, family or guests seem to take notice of it. Sure, you might be thinking, that they are noticing why I didn’t spend hours cooking up some rich, decadent paneer dish with extra butter, fresh white flour, doughy naan, accented with some high salt mango pickle and topped off with another doughy/milky sphere floating in sugar syrup as the finishing touch. Quite the contrary, people are happy to have a simple, refreshing meal that tastes good and many times just feels right- right down to their belly, their brain and their behavior. It feels good to know you are not consuming something that might increase the bulge and doesn’t leave you feeling overfull and lethargic. Inevitably, friends reflect on their own culinary track record and become curious about how to improve their day to day health with better food choices.

During our discussions, our cousin was quick to point out that women are being diagnosed with breast cancer in their 30s and business acquaintances dying from heart attacks in their 40s. He created the drama and shock in his heart when telling the story to us … but his rational mind was never startled by these stories. I asked him why he thought this was happening. "Because people don't walk anymore; they eat too much; and they work long hours," he quickly surmised. He, like most people in India, has seen the good, the bad and the ugly parts of becoming a ‘developing’ country. Developing into larger and (physically) lazier people was never the intention of modernization, but it is the price that many Indians are paying for progress. 

Not everyone gets it. There are those that continue to live in denial so that they can continue to operate in the fantasy land of their unhealthy habits. Be warned, I have seen that these deviations from our ancestral way of living, eating, moving and thinking will not be tolerated by your genetics. Symptoms will slowly accumulate and disease will come next, and this all at younger and younger ages. Just sit back and watch it all unfold … or maybe it already is with someone you know. 

Your ability to discriminate right from wrong is what makes you uniquely human. Your ability to now understand your great-grandmother’s way of life is what will empower you to mend your health, or lack thereof. If you have any cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, family history of cancer, or just know that your body is not performing the way that it should for your age, go back in time and live like your ancestors. Eat foods as close to its most earthly form, eat plenty of plants, eats legumes and lentils daily, eat cultured dairy products, eat less overall, walk more, squat more, think less, worry less, pray more, meditate more, connect more, gather your community more … all to live more.

Dr. Shilpa P. Saxena is the founder and Medical Director of SevaMed Institute in Lutz. She seeks to educate patients and physicians in the expanding fields of Integrative and Functional Medicine. She leads Living Wellness University, an online Integrative Medical Education Community, which provides beneficial lifestyle tools for all. Visit for more information.

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