What is a guardianship?
A guardianship is the appointment, by a court, of an individual or entity to provide care and to make personal decisions for a minor or an incapacitated adult. A person is determined by the court to be incapacitated when he or she lacks the ability to make responsible decisions concerning his or her daily living needs. The person for whom a guardian is appointed is called a ward.
What are the duties of a guardian?
A guardian has powers and responsibilities similar to those of a parent. The guardian may make personal decisions for the ward, such as living arrangements, education, social activities, and authorization to withhold medical treatment. The guardian must make sure the ward is living in a safe environment.
A guardian must submit an annual report to the court which includes information on the health and living conditions of the ward.
Who may serve as a guardian?
- Private fiduciary - a person or an entity that holds a license to act as a guardian for someone and is paid to do so.
- Public fiduciary – appointed by the court. Generally does not act as a guardian for a minor.
The law provides a list of priorities for appointment, although the court may appoint someone with a lower priority if such appointment is in the best interests of the ward. Before being appointed as guardian, the individual must provide background information and other information to the court.
A guardianship should be considered a last resort and should never be used unless it is the only option. If you know of someone that may be having difficulty in making his or her routine daily decisions, please contact one of our experienced estate planning attorneys to learn if a guardianship is needed or if there are less restrictive options available.
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This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.