What Should I Know about Guardianship?

What Should I Know about Guardianship?

In a perfect world, a child would be raised by its parents. However, this isn’t always possible, and legally enforceable decisions must sometimes be made to name the person who is best positioned to look after a child. Guardianship rules are very specific.  Guardianship is generally only needed when a person is incapable—whether legally or practically—of looking after their own affairs, says VENTS Magazine in the article “Legal Guardianship 101: What You Need to Know.”

Courts have the power to appoint guardians for adults and children. This is usually a person who is unable to make decisions for themselves.  It may be a disabled person, and guardians are appointed for children when parents consent to it, when their parental rights are removed by a court, or when both parents are dead or permanently incapacitated.

Guardians have duties as to both the protected person and their estate. The duties to the person include providing necessities, education and appropriate medical treatment, where necessary. As far as the estate of the protected person, the duties are to manage any funds properly and to spend them pursuant to the protected person’s needs. Guardians must prepare an inventory of assets within 60 days of their appointment to the role.

Custody is only granted for children. When appointed, a custodian is given parental rights over the child. Guardianship does not bestow these rights.  A guardian is appointed to take care of a protected person and to safeguard their estate. Biological parents, if alive, keep their parental rights over the child.

To become a guardian you must file a petition with the court. The documents need to be prepared correctly and a medical certificate must also be submitted. There will be a hearing on your application and must present proof (from a doctor, for example) that guardianship is necessary under the circumstances.

Guardianship litigation can be stressful,  so engage an experienced estate planning attorney to help you.

Reference: VENTS Magazine (April 13, 2020) “Legal Guardianship 101: What You Need to Know”