There are many reasons why someone would want to file for guardianship of an adult. If you are trying to get guardianship for an adult loved one, you’ll want to hire a family law attorney to help you. While you can try to obtain guardianship while representing yourself, the law is full of nuances and technicalities. A family law lawyer can navigate these and represent you so that you have a greater chance of being awarded guardianship.
Here is what you need to know about the basics of filing for guardianship of an adult.
When Is Legal Guardianship Of An Adult Necessary?
An adult may need a guardian if they are physically, mentally, or emotionally incapable of making decisions for themselves, such as if an adult in incapacitated, either through being special needs, through a physical or mental illness or disability, through age, or another reason.
If the court deems that the person cannot make safe or practical decisions for themselves, they may award guardianship to someone else. Evidence is needed to prove that an adult needs the assistance of a guardian.
Types Of Guardianship
You may decide to file for guardianship, conservatorship, or both.
- Guardianship is similar to power of attorney. A guardian is responsible for an individual’s personal affairs, such as their treatment, residence, and safety.
- Conservatorship is when you are responsible for handling the estate, or finances, of the adult the court has deemed in need of a conservator.
When you have both guardianship and conservatorship, you are responsible for the protected individual’s personal and financial affairs. You may also file for limited guardianship or limited conservatorship.
The Court is always the superior guardian. If you are awarded guardianship, you will be required to obey the Court’s orders.
Alternatives To Guardianship
If the adult you are trying to file for guardianship of can make some decisions for themselves, courts may favor an alternative to guardianship. In general, a court typically favors placing individuals in the least restrictive environment necessary.
Some of the alternatives to guardianship include:
- A joint bank account, to prevent rash spending.
- Representative payee, to manage funds.
- Durable power of attorney for property or healthcare, to provide support in making complex decisions.
- Appointment of advocate and authorization, to advocate on the protected individual’s behalf.
- HIPAA release forms, to be able to receive protected medical information about the protected individual.
- Trusts, as an alternative to a conservatorship.
- Supported decision-making, to help the protected individual make decisions.
The court will determine the appropriate action to take.
How Can You Get Guardianship Of An Adult?
If you feel as though a loved one needs guardianship and they are over 18, you will want to hire a family law attorney to represent you. Your attorney will be able to help you navigate the process.
In general, you will need to file a petition and fill out all the necessary forms and paperwork. The court will hear your case and examine the evidence. The adult you are filing for guardianship of has the right to be present in court, to be represented by their own attorney, to have an independent evaluation completed, and to fight the claim that they need a guardian.
The judge will determine whether to appoint a guardian or conservator, to take another action, or to dismiss the case.
If you are awarded guardianship of an adult, your attorney will guide you through the process to finalize it.
Can A Guardianship Be Ended?
Guardianships can be ended. They end when either the protected individual dies or has been restored to capacity by the court. If you wish to resign as a guardian or conservator but the protected individual needs one, another guardian or conservator will need to be appointed. A guardian can also be removed by the court.
Are You Trying To Obtain Guardianship Of An Adult?
Kaufman, Nichols, & Kaufman provides family law services, including guardianship. If you are trying to obtain guardianship of an adult, contact us today to schedule a consultation. We will answer your questions and concerns and help you navigate the legal process.