When a person is no longer capable of handling their personal or financial affairs, the court appoints another person or entity to take care of these matters on their behalf. A Guardian can be a family member, spouse, parent, relative, or a friend, who will be required to act in the best interests of the ward, i.e. the incapacitated person.
How a Guardian is Appointed?
A Guardian is required to get an official appointment from the court in order to have any legal standing. In most cases, the Guardian is required to file a petition asking for the position. Before the decision is made to grant Guardianship, a judge carefully studies the case to determine whether the ward needs a Guardian. The issue may be quite clear in case of a child, but when Guardianship of an adult is in question, the Guardian must be able to prove through medical evidence that the person is not capable of making important life and business decisions independently.
It is not necessary for a Guardian to be a person, as courts may appoint a bank or trust company, especially when an adult has complex assets and finances. This may also happen if the ward is an orphaned child, who has received a large inheritance. However, in a majority of cases, courts give Guardianship to a person.
The Statutory Responsibilities of a Guardian
- To take control of the ward’s finances and estate, and file an inventory of the assets with the court.
- To develop a budget for the finances and property management plan for using ward’s estate for the coming year.
- To submit a detailed accounting of all the ward’s expenditures and incomes at the end of each year to a clerk of probate court for review.
- To oversee the burial in the event of the ward’s death, and prepare a final accounting before they are relieved of their duties as a Guardian.
If the Guardian fails to perform the required tasks and fulfill these responsibilities, they can be replaced with a more suitable candidate for the position. Moreover, if a Guardian mismanages funds in any way, they will be held liable personally.
Types of Guardians
Generally, there are two types of Guardians:
- Guardians of the Estate: They handle a ward’s income, debts, and assets, and don’t provide care for daily personal affairs.
- Guardians of the Person: They deal with a ward’s personal affairs, such as providing shelter, meals, and transportation.
Courts may appoint a single or two separate Guardians to fulfill both roles. In some states, the latter type is also called guardians, and the term Guardian is only used for a person managing the finances and assets of a ward.
The laws governing Guardianship are quite complex, and may require special considerations based on the uniqueness of each case. If you are having difficulty in understanding Guardianship or want legal assistance to become a Guardian, you should hire a reliable and experience estate planning attorney to represent your case. For specific, detailed information, contact the Law Office of John C. Grundy at 330.637.9030 or online to schedule your consultation today.