Guardianship

If an individual is unable to look after one's own affairs, a Guardianship may be in order.

If you have an elderly loved one who has lost the ability to make rational or sound decisions regarding their finances, health care, and other essential aspects of life, it may be necessary to consider a Guardianship.  Typically, a Guardianship comes into play when an elder doesn’t have a power of attorney or needs protection beyond what a document can provide. 

A Legal Relationship

A Guardianship is a proceeding in which the Probate Court appoints one person to act on behalf of another. Guardianships are generally established for individuals who are minors or for those deemed to be incompetent. If a Guardianship is approved, those individuals are referred to as "wards".

Tremendous power

A court-appointed Guardian carries tremendous power over a ward. The Guardian can

  • Handle finances for the ward
  • Pay bills
  • Place the ward in a nursing home
  • Consent or refuse medical treatment

Because a Guardianship places severe restrictions on an individual's independence, the court requires the person seeking to establish the Guardianship over an adult to prove the incompetency of the proposed Ward. If proof is made, a Guardianship can be established over a person and over his or her property (called an estate).

Costly, cumbersome, and time-consuming

A Guardianship can be a costly, cumbersome and time-consuming process. Once the Guardianship is established, the Guardian must do the following:

  • Get court approval for each expenditure he or she makes with the ward's funds.
  • Take a detailed inventory of all of the ward's assets.
  • File an accounting, showing every receipt to and expenditure from the ward's bank account at the end of each year of the Guardianship.

The law sets up these safeguards to ensure that the Guardian does not take advantage of the ward.

Because of the numerous expenses and obstacles associated with Guardianship, (attorney fees, filing fees, etc) many families prefer to avoid the process and pursue more efficient means to handle the affairs of their loved ones.

Properly drafted power of attorney documents for finances and health care can often accomplish many of the same goals of the Guardianship by granting a trusted person the authority to act for one's self without direct Court Supervision. However, for those who fail to take these steps of advanced planning, a Guardianship is often the only choice.

Let's Talk

If you have questions about whether a Guardianship is right for your situation, please contact us for guidance.

Our experienced probate attorneys can answer your questions and help you determine whether a Guardianship is necessary. Additionally, we can assist you in the event that you need to establish a Guardianship or if you are involved in a Guardianship proceeding.

Don't go through the process of establishing a Guardianship alone. Contact an experienced probate attorney today for guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Whether you're planning for your parents, your spouse, or even yourself, The Law Practice of Dennison Keller, LLC will meet you at the crossroads of legal and care advocacy to show you one clear path out of the maze and get you on the road toward your own peace of mind.