Guardianship may become necessary for certain individuals who have suffered an incapacitating physical or mental illness or injury. Guardianship is also an important consideration in regard to the rights of minors when a parent can no longer act on behalf of the child whether due to abandonment, incapacity or death of the parent.
A guardian can be a relative, friend or a court-appointed fiduciary, with the goal of providing the incapacitated person with as much independence as appropriate. The responsibilities of the guardian can range from managing finances to making critical health care decisions. The two main types of guardianship are guardianship of the person and guardianship of the property.
Guardianship of the person allows the guardian to consent to both medical and non-medical services. As guardian of the person, the appointed fiduciary may make decisions about the incapacitated person’s living arrangement, including decisions about placement into a nursing home or assisted living.
Guardianship of the property allows the guardian to manage and protect the incapacitated person’s assets and property. The guardian may pay debts and manage monthly expenses. They may also apply for government benefits such as Medicaid and veteran’s pensions.
The guardian may be granted both designations described above and will be required to report annually to the Court.
Our attorneys and staff can assist in the initial application to the Court and in the ongoing reporting requirements. We also encourage everyone over the age of 18 with the capacity to understand and sign advance directives (Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Living Will) to do so before tragedy strikes, as the guardianship process can be time consuming, intrusive and expensive.