When adults can no longer care for themselves, they may need a guardian or a caregiver. The need for a guardian can be due to many factors, such as a medical condition, mental illness, or physical disability. Guardianships can be temporary or permanent and can be put in place by a family member, friend, or legal Guardian.
There are three types of guardianships: general Guardianship, limited Guardianship, and plenary Guardianship. General Guardianship gives the guardian authority over the ward’s person and property. Limited Guardianship only gives the guardian authority over specific areas of the ward’s life, such as their medical care or finances. Plenary Guardianship gives the Guardian complete authority over the ward’s person and property.
The Guardian is legally responsible for caring for the ward and making decisions in their best interest. A guardian’s responsibilities include providing for their basic needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing. The Guardian must also protect the ward from harm and ensure their safety. In many states, the person who becomes responsible for handling finances is called a “conservator.” Guardianships vary from state to state, depending on different standards. A person must be considered incapacitated or incompetent to receive a guardian who will decide for them. Some states may require a doctor’s letter or physician’s certificate. Be sensitive and patient while obtaining the letter/certificate as the adult may have paranoia or an illness like dementia or Alzheimer’s and maybe nervous or resistant to meeting with a doctor. Guardianships are not up to opinion. If someone is irresponsible in life, with money, or even specific disabilities or illnesses, it is not always a reason for a guardian.
Generally, anyone interested in the well-being of another person can request Guardianship. First, if possible, obtain a medical examination from a doctor. If unable to obtain an examination, request one for a later time. Next, file your application. Getting help from an experienced attorney or lawyer can help fill in any gaps. It is also a requirement that you notify the proposed ward of the application, including any other family members that may have the legal rights to know about this partition of Guardianship. The court will also do a background check on you or the person trying to become the Guardian to ensure they have the best intentions, are financially responsible, and do not have any serious criminal backgrounds. After that, the court will assign something called an Attorney Ad Litem/Guardian Ad Litem to your family member. An Attorney Ad Litem is there to do what the proposed ward, their clients, wants to do. If necessary, the Guardian Ad Litem will ensure recommendations are made in the ward’s best interest, not just what the person may want.
There are also a couple of alternatives to Guardianship. A Power of Attorney or Conservatorship can be granted if the ward requires less restrictive options. A power of attorney is voluntary for managing financial decisions once the person becomes incapacitated. A conservatorship is appointed by court order and can also be helpful when a person needs assistance with financial or medical needs.
If you are considering becoming a guardian, it is vital to understand your rights and responsibilities. It would be best if you also spoke with an attorney to ensure that you take on the guardianship role correctly. With Rowe & Walton, PC, we can provide the best care for your loved ones. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call us today.