The Basics of Guardianship
The Basics of Guardianship
Guardianship provides a safety net for children who can not be cared for by their parents or adults who can not care for themselves.
Guardianship allows a person the legal right to care for and make decisions for another person, generally of a minor or an adult who is unable to make judgement for themselves, such as a handicapped or disabled person.
A guardian also manages the finances, in addition to managing the care for this individual known as a ward. It is sometimes also called conservatorship when the guardianship is of an adult.
Guardianship vs. Custody
Guardianship differs from custody in several ways. Custody refers to a minor child only, where as guardianship can be of a child or an adult. Someone obtain parental or grandparental rights, when they gets custody of a child.
A guardian is simply appointed to care for the ward and the ward’s finances but does not receive any parental rights. When guardianship of a child is established, the child’s parents maintain their parental rights or atleast infringe on them.
When Guardianship Is Granted
When a child or adult needs someone to care for them and manage their affairs, guardianship is generally established at that time.
In the following situations guardianship of a child can be granted :
- The child’s parents consent to guardianship.
- The parent’s rights are terminated.
- A court decide the child should be placed with a guardian.
It is common for military parents to name guardians for their children so that if they are posted overseas, there is someone they trust who can care for their child in their absence. Parents also commonly name a guardian in their will so that, if they die leaving a minor child, they can hint to the court their preference for a guardian.
Guardianship of an adult can be granted when an adult is incapacitated and can not make their own decisions.
This could happen due to :
- Sudden illness.
- Chronic illness that gradually leads to incapacitation.
- A handicapped person reaching adulthood and requiring ongoing care.
- An adult exhibiting behavior indicating he or she could harm to himself or others
How to Get Guardianship
Guardianship can only be authorized by a court order. Therefore to obtain guardianship over a child or adult, you need to file a petition, even if the parent of a child has already consented to grant guardianship. This process is usually carried out in probate court in the prospective ward resides. You can obtained aplication forms from your local probate court’s website or court clerk’s office. After the petition is filled, the ward is served and the court schedules a hearing to determine if guardianship is necessary or appropriate.Proof, such as a doctor’s examination, is necessary for guardianship of an adult. Guardianship of a child requires proof that the child is need of supervision or care.
It is possible for an adult to prevent a guardianship situation by creating an estate plan, which can consists of many legal documents, that prepares for all eventualities. To do this you need a health care advance directive and/or a health proxy so that you can name someone to make health decisions for you and also aithorize what your wishes are for end-of-life health care. You might also choose to create a living trust to ensure your finances are protected and managed. A powerful attorney names someone to handle business and financial dealings on your behalf
should be unable to do so.
You can use an online service provider, if you want help setting up your estate plan.
Guardianship can be an essential lifeline for adults or children in need. Ensuring that you prepare for all eventualities, for yourself and your loved ones, can give you peace of mind .