By: Attorney Shira Truitt
Adults who are unable to make their own decisions about their healthcare or finances may need a guardian to make these decisions on their behalf. This is known as adult guardianship. In this article, we will discuss the process of obtaining an adult guardianship, the responsibilities of a guardian, and the alternatives to adult guardianship.
What is adult guardianship?
Adult guardianship, also known as conservatorship, is a legal relationship in which one person (the guardian) is appointed by a court to make decisions for another person (the ward) who is unable to make those decisions due to a disability. The ward is usually an adult who has been deemed incompetent to make their own decisions due to a mental or physical disability.
How is adult guardianship obtained?
The process for obtaining an adult guardianship varies by state, but generally it involves the following steps:
A petition is filed with the court by a person seeking to be appointed as the guardian, or by someone else on behalf of the potential ward.
The court will appoint an attorney to represent the interests of the potential ward.
The attorney will investigate the case and make a recommendation to the court about whether guardianship is necessary and who should be appointed as the guardian.
The court will hold a hearing to determine whether the potential ward is unable to make their own decisions and whether it is necessary to appoint a guardian.
If the court finds that a guardian is necessary, it will appoint a guardian and specify the powers and duties of the guardian.
Responsibilities of a guardian
The responsibilities of a guardian vary depending on the specific powers and duties granted by the court, but may include the following:
Making decisions about the ward's healthcare, including consenting to medical treatment
Managing the ward's financial affairs, including paying bills and managing assets
Ensuring that the ward's basic needs are met such as food, clothing, and shelter
Representing the ward in legal matters
Alternatives to adult guardianship
There are several alternatives to adult guardianship that may be appropriate for individuals who are unable to make their own decisions. These alternatives may include:
Durable power of attorney: This allows the individual to appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated.
Health care proxy: This allows the individual to appoint someone to make healthcare decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so.
Living will: This document specifies the individual's preferences for medical treatment in the event that they are unable to make their own decisions.
Adult guardianship is a legal relationship in which one person is appointed by a court to make decisions for another person who is unable to make those decisions due to a disability. The process for obtaining an adult guardianship varies by state and involves a petition being filed with the court, the appointment of a guardian ad litem, and a court hearing to determine whether guardianship is necessary. The responsibilities of a guardian may include making decisions about the ward's healthcare and finances, ensuring that the ward's basic needs are met, and representing the ward in legal matters. Alternatives to adult guardianship include durable power of attorney, health care proxy, and living will.
To see my video on guardianships, go to https://youtu.be/lPVAF8Qw30M .
"Conservatorship and Guardianship." National Institute on Aging. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/conservatorship-and-guardianship
"Guardianship." American Bar Association. https://www.americanbar.org/groups/law_aging/
If you need legal advice or a lawyer in Illinois or Missouri, please contact The Truitt Law Firm, LLC for assistance. For more information on The Truitt Law Firm, LLC or to schedule an appointment, please go to www.thetruittlawfirm.com.