What is a Guardianship?
A Guardianship is the process when one person (the “Guardian”) becomes the court appointed legal representative of another person (the “Ward”), usually a parent, child or other loved one. A guardianship may become necessary when your loved one is not able to manage his or her health or financial matters. As discussed further below, this can be a burdensome and expensive process. Therefore alternatives should be considered. Sometimes a guardianship is the only or the best alternative. We will look at your specific set of circumstances and help you decide whether or not a guardianship is right in your situation.
Who Needs a Guardianship?
Elderly Persons Losing Capacity Sometimes, a loved one may reach a stage in life where they can no longer make important decisions or tend to their own needs. As people live longer, more older Americans are becoming incapacitated in the wake of diseases such as Alzheimers and Dementia. A guardian can step in and take over. Sometimes, guardianships are needed to protect seniors from exploitation by unscrupulous and misguided people.
Those With Mentally Incapacitating Disabilities Persons with a mentally incapacitating disability may never have been able to manage their own affairs. They may have inherited assets or may now be nearing the age of 18 and need a person to manage their health and/or finances. When these children become legal adults, their parents may not have the same ability to meet their needs without a guardianship.
Those in Crisis A guardianship may be needed to protect the health and other interests of an adult who is facing a mental health or substance abuse crisis. A guardianship may be needed to step in when a person in crisis is a danger to themselves or others or when that person may be depleting their assets due to the crisis situation.
Minors Inheriting Property A guardianship may also be necessary when a minor person inherits or is gifted assets. Minors do not have the legal “capacity” to control their own assets. When leaving property to a minor, you should always use a trust. Otherwise, a guardianship might be necessary.