All About Guardianship

Guardianship is the legal right to make decisions for a child or an adult who can’t do so on their own. It can last for decades or even a person’s entire lifetime.

It’s not the same as custody, nor is it the same as a conservatorship, which manages an estate, such as inherited assets.

How to become a guardian

A legal guardian is appointed by the court to make personal and property decisions for an individual who can't do so on their own. Guardians can be family members, friends or professionals working at for-profit and non-profit entities. State courts, often specialized courts called probate, surrogates or orphan's courts, appoint guardians. To become a guardian, you must petition the court for the role and provide proof that your appointment would be in the best interests of the person or persons being protected.

The judge at the hearing will ask you several questions. Be prepared to explain why you are the best choice for guardian, and what your plan is for caring for the ward, including any support system you will have in place to assist you and how you are financially stable to do so. Typically, the judge will want to see detailed financial records as well as receipts and invoices of expenditures. The judge will also schedule periodic review hearings. These will likely happen every few months at first, but once the judge is satisfied that the guardianship arrangement is working, reviews may become annual or less frequent.

Usually, the people who need a guardian are children who do not have parents who can care for them or adults who are incapacitated due to illness or injury. Having a guardianship in place can give you peace of mind knowing that if anything happens to you, the loved ones you've chosen will be cared for in exactly the way you've specified in your will.

You can also use a service like Koestner & Shahon to get help with your estate planning needs, and they offer a free legal will with all their plans. In addition, they have a low-cost option for creating an emergency guardianship for 15 days. Choosing a legal guardian can be a difficult decision, but it is important to have a plan in place to ensure that the people you love most will be taken care of, no matter what.

Who can be a guardian

Guardians can be parents, relatives, close friends, or professional guardians. A court appoints guardians for children and adults who cannot care for themselves or manage their own property. The judge decides if you can be a guardian and will give you the legal authority to make decisions for the person you are taking care of (a “ward”). In some cases, the judge may grant only limited decision making power in specific areas. The guardian must be able to take care of the ward’s personal needs, education, health, and welfare. You must keep in close contact with the ward’s school and physician, and provide for food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. If you are the parent of a child, you must also be familiar with family support groups and community resources that can help you and your child.

Most parents nominate a legal guardian for their children in a will or other estate plan. If you don’t, the courts will choose a guardian for your child without your input. To be a legal guardian, you must be over the age of 18, not have any criminal convictions, and have the ability to take good care of your child. Your relationship to the child and your ability to provide a safe and stable home are also important factors in the judge’s decision. If you express a preference for a guardian in your will, the judge will consider that as well.

Adults with developmental disabilities may need a guardian, as can adults who become incapacitated due to a serious illness or accident. In these cases, the judge determines if you can’t manage your personal and financial affairs independently and gives you the authority to act on your behalf. You must go through a long process to be appointed as a legal guardian, and you must fulfill certain requirements. You may wish to talk with an attorney who specializes in estate planning to ensure that you have the legal authority to be the guardian of someone else.

It’s possible to limit the powers of a legal guardian with a document called a Power of Attorney, which can be more scalable. A guardian oversees and makes decisions for the ward, while a conservator handles their finances.

What are the responsibilities of a guardian

If you are the guardian of an adult, your responsibilities can vary depending on what type of guardianship you have been granted. In general, your duties are to provide housing for the adult, ensure that he or she receives food and medical care that is appropriate for the individual's condition and that any bills are paid out of incoming funds such as Social Security, retirement accounts and private insurance policies.

Often, the person in your charge requires daily assistance with the tasks of eating, dressing and toileting. In some cases, this can include providing a wheelchair or medication to help with physical impairments. If your ward has a mental impairment, you may have to ensure that the person's emotional and psychological needs are met. Depending on the situation, this can mean that the guardian takes him or her to activities that stimulate the mind and body.

The legal duties and responsibilities of a guardian can also include making decisions regarding education, employment, career choices, and other personal matters. The court typically has specific guidelines in place regarding these types of decisions, but you must always act in the best interests of your ward. You must also provide a monthly report to the court detailing how your ward is doing and what you have done on his or her behalf.

A legal guardian can have significant almost total decision-making authority over an incapacitated person's life, excluding the power to make a will, file for divorce, transfer assets or income and permit marriage without further court approval. If you are a non-relative guardian, the court may require that you complete a background investigation and a credit check before the court will approve your appointment.

Guardians must keep accurate records of all money received and spent and any property purchased on the protected person's behalf. Whether you have a separate bank account for the estate or simply use your own checking account, it is important to keep track of all the expenses that are incurred. This record-keeping will come in handy later on when the guardian must prepare a comprehensive financial account for the court.

How to terminate a guardianship

A guardianship is a legal relationship between a named party (the "guardian") and another person that has been legally designated as their “ward.” A ward can be either an adult or a minor. When the guardian-ward relationship is no longer necessary, it is important to notify the court so that the arrangement can be terminated.

The person who seeks to terminate the guardianship must file a petition with the court and attend a hearing, where they must present evidence. It is a good idea to consult with an attorney who is experienced in handling guardianship cases before making this important decision.

A request to terminate a guardianship should include proof that the ward is capable of managing their own affairs and does not need the help of a guardian. It is also helpful to provide a letter from the individual's physician, stating that they are competent and do not need a guardian.

If you are seeking to end a temporary guardianship, you must also complete the citation form and serve it on the persons who may be affected by the termination. This includes the current guardian and other family members who have been involved in the matter. The citation should be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested. This is very important because if the judge feels that you have not served all parties properly, they can cancel your hearing!

To terminate a permanent guardianship, you must file a Petition to Terminate Guardianship with the court. This must be accompanied by a detailed account of the guardian-ward relationship and the reasons why it is no longer necessary. If the ward is still alive, they will be allowed to attend and testify at the hearing.

In some states, a temporary guardianship can be ended without court involvement by signing an agreement between the parties involved. However, this should only be done if the parties agree and if it is in the best interests of the child.

Terminating a temporary or permanent guardianship is complicated. It is essential to understand how each state’s laws differ and what steps are required to ensure that the court has all of the information needed to make a fair decision. An attorney can help you prepare the necessary paperwork, schedule a hearing and represent you in court to ensure that your rights are protected.

Guardianship is the legal right to make decisions for a child or an adult who can’t do so on their own. It can last for decades or even a person’s entire lifetime. It’s not the same as custody, nor is it the same as a conservatorship, which manages an estate, such as inherited assets. How…