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What is a Guardianship?

When you hear the word guardian or guardianship, you might think of an underage child whose parents are no longer able to care for them. However, it is not altogether uncommon for adults to require a guardian.

A guardianship is the relationship between a person or agency (the “guardian”) who has been appointed by a court to act on behalf of a person who is not legally able to make decisions for themselves (the “ward”). Depending on the type of guardianship, guardians may be authorized to make decisions affecting the ward’s physical person (such as where they live and health care decisions) and/or regarding the ward’s finances and other things they own.

When is a Guardianship Necessary?

An adult might need a guardian temporarily or permanently because of a serious physical injury, mental illness, or mental disability that impairs the ward’s ability to care for himself or herself. These circumstances can occur unexpectedly. A court makes the determination whether the person’s ability is impaired.

How does the Process Work?

Guardianship is a lengthy and often expensive process with several steps involved. A typical pattern is that a petition for adjudication of incompetence is filed with the clerk of court and a competency hearing is held. The clerk then determines if a guardian is needed and who will serve in that role.

Once appointed, a guardian has several duties, including making decisions in the best interest of the ward and filing any reports/accountings required by the court in a timely manner. The guardianship will last as long as the ward needs a guardian, often the rest of the ward’s life.

Are There Alternatives to an Adult Guardianship?

People frequently think of estate planning as a way to protect or distribute their assets after death. However, certain estate planning documents can also help you avoid a guardianship. Having the right General Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney, choosing your agents carefully, and carefully planning the extent of your agents’ authority will enable people you trust to make certain decisions for you if the time comes. It will also be far less expensive than a court-appointed guardianship process and will be far less intrusive and difficult for you and your loved ones.

Read more on the Fundamentals of Estate Plans here: https://rhodeslaw.net/fundamental-parts-of-an-estate-plan/.

Whether you would like to update your estate plan to avoid guardianship or you need assistance qualifying as a guardian for a family member, Rhodes Law Firm, PLLC, would be honored to assist you. Schedule an appointment with Attorney Annette Rhodes by calling 919-435-3646.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.