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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 capacity 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?

  • Individual
  • 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.

Is the guardianship process expensive?

The cost of a guardianship proceeding can include the fees from the following professionals – attorney representing the individual petitioning to be the guardian; court appointed attorney; court appointed investigator, and court appointed medical examiner. The court appointed professionals are mandatory within the process. Thus, the cost of a non-contested guardianship can easily range from $5,000-$10,000 to complete the initial process; and then post-guardianship fees for filing the annual report. If the process becomes contested, the fee escalates accordingly.

Can a guardianship be avoided?

With proper estate planning, a guardianship proceeding can be avoided. A guardianship should be considered a last resort and should never be used unless it is the only option.  Before tragedy hits you or a loved one, you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney to review your existing plan, or establish an estate plan to protect you and your family from an unnecessary and expensive court guardianship proceeding.

Why Choose Morris Hall:
You have a number of options when it comes to estate planning, so why pick Morris Hall?  First off, estate planning and asset protection are a very complicated endeavor and you should only trust someone who focuses exclusively on those matters.  Also, MH is a proud member of The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (AAEPA) which provides us additional support, advanced training, tools and information that is not available to others – which means that we can better protect your assets and your loved ones.  We are one of only two firms in Arizona that belong to the AAEPA and are the only firm in New Mexico that has been granted membership.  If you have assets and loved ones that you want to protect, you are in good hands with MH.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!

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.

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