Put simply, the term “guardianship” refers to the court supervision of an incapacitated person. A court appointed guardian is given legal authority to make personal and/or financial decisions for the incapacitated person.
The appointment of a guardian is not to be taken lightly. As a result of guardianship, the “ward” is losing their own legal authority. This process can be costly and intrusive. In these cases, the courts go to great lengths to make sure that a guardianship is actually needed and that the proposed guardian is qualified.
A guardian may be appointed if a person is suffering from mental capacity issues.
Less permanent challenges usually will not qualify for guardianship. These instances include those who have acute drug additions, those with destructive financial habits, or alcoholics.
It is not appropriate to seek guardianship if there is a less intrusive alternative. These alternatives include the following:
The courts will demand convincing and clear evidence that these alternatives are not feasible before they will consider appointing a guardian.
Generally, the courts will give preference to the following persons when deciding who can be appointed as guardian:
If the ward is a minor and is at least 12, the minor may select a guardian in writing. This is subject to the court’s finding that it is in the best interest of the minor.
The process begins with the filing of an application and an assessment by third parties followed by a court hearing. Typically, courts require an application be filed by a guardianship attorney.
The courts can also initiate a guardianship if they are given information that the appointment of a guardian is needed for a person located in a specific county.
Guardianship can be temporary or permanent, and the court can appoint the guardian powers to act for the ward’s property, the ward’s person, or both.
Once appointed, the guardian is subject to court supervision. This supervision requires annual reporting, annual visits by a court visitor, and an annual review to determine whether the guardianship should be continued.
We help clients navigate this process. If you have questions about getting appointed as guardian or abuses by a guardian, call us today to see how we can help. Our experienced probate attorneys have over a decade of experience with probate.