Establishment of a Guardianship
A guardianship is a legal right given to an individual to be responsible for the care, housing and basic necessities of another individual, commonly referred to as the ward, who is deemed incapable or unable to care for himself or herself.
Each state has different procedures for establishing a guardianship. If no financial or health power of attorneys are executed, the individual seeking to become the guardian files a petition with the court explaining why the ward is in need of a guardian. A doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist may examine the ward. All interested parties then receive notice of the proceedings. A hearing takes place. An attorney may be appointed to represent the ward. The ward should also be present at the proceedings, if possible.
Role of a Guardian
A guardian has numerous duties. The court will inform the guardian of the decisions that they are permitted to make. The amount and the type of decisions that the guardian is permitted to make is limited by the court. The guardian must remember that his job is to make decisions that are in the ward’s best interests. State laws may also dictate the type of duties that the guardian may undertake.
Some of the duties that the guardian may have regarding the ward’s property include:
- Find and protect the ward’s assets;
- Use the ward’s money and resources for the care of the ward;
- Keep detailed records of the ward’s expenditures;
- File inventories and accountings with the court;
- Ask the court’s permission before making a decision that would greatly affect the ward’s assets; and
- Carefully invest the ward’s assets.
Some of the duties that the guardian may have regarding the ward’s personal affairs include:
- Arrange for caregivers and doctors’ appointments;
- Consent to medical treatment;
- Supervise the ward’s personal habits (e.g. meals, clothing etc…);
- Frequently visit the ward; and
- Report to the court regarding the care that the guardian is providing.