If someone is unable to make decisions, a legal guardian may be needed. The individual must be deemed incompetent and a court will determine who is best fit to make decisions for the individual. Please keep in mind, this is not a quick process unless the individual has already been deemed incompetent by the court. Also, someone with a mental illness may exhibit poor judgement and decision making skills, but this is not enough to obtain guardianship. Guardians will look out for the best interest of the individual which may include: residential placement, hospitalization, outpatient services, medication management. Guardianship can be a family member, friend or interested party.
Legal guardianship is a legal arrangement in which an individual (the guardian) is appointed by a court to make decisions and provide care for another person (the ward) who is unable to make those decisions or care for themselves due to various reasons. Guardianship is typically sought for individuals who are minors, adults with disabilities, or elderly individuals who are no longer able to make decisions about their own well-being.
Here are some key points to understand about legal guardianship:
1. Guardianship of an Adult: In cases where an adult is unable to manage their personal affairs or make informed decisions due to a disability, illness, or incapacitation, a guardian may be appointed. This could involve decisions related to healthcare, finances, and daily living.
2. Guardianship Process: The process for establishing guardianship varies by jurisdiction but generally involves a legal petition to the court, a hearing, and a determination by the court based on the best interests of the ward. The court will consider evidence of the individual’s incapacity or need for guardianship.
3. Duties of a Guardian: Guardians are typically responsible for making decisions in the best interests of the ward. These decisions may include medical treatment, living arrangements, and financial matters.
4. Limited Guardianship: In some cases, a court may grant limited guardianship, where the guardian has authority over specific aspects of the ward’s life, rather than full control.
5. Reporting and Oversight: Guardians are often required to provide regular reports to the court on their actions and decisions as a guardian. This ensures ongoing oversight to protect the rights and interests of the ward.
6. Termination of Guardianship: Guardianships can be terminated or modified by the court if it is determined that the ward’s circumstances have changed, and guardianship is no longer necessary or in the ward’s best interests.
Legal guardianship is an important legal process designed to protect individuals who are unable to care for themselves. It is a significant responsibility, and guardians must act in the best interests of the ward, ensuring their safety, well-being, and rights are upheld. If you are considering seeking or becoming a guardian, it is advisable to consult with an attorney who specializes in guardianship law to navigate the legal requirements specific to your jurisdiction.
Person Guardianship vs Estate Guardianship
Guardianship can be broadly categorized into two main types: person guardianship and estate guardianship. These categories define the scope and responsibilities of the guardian and are often used when someone is appointed to care for an individual who is unable to make decisions or manage their personal and financial affairs.
Here’s a breakdown of the differences between person guardianship and estate guardianship:
Person Guardianship (Guardianship of the Person):
- Responsibilities: A person guardian is appointed by a court to make decisions related to the personal well-being, care, and living arrangements of an individual who is unable to make these decisions independently. This includes decisions about healthcare, housing, education (for minors), and other aspects of daily life.
- Focus: Person guardianship primarily focuses on the individual’s personal needs, safety, and overall quality of life. The guardian ensures that the ward receives proper care and support.
- Examples: Person guardianship is typically sought in cases involving minors who have lost their parents or when an adult has a disability or condition that impairs their decision-making capacity and requires assistance with personal care and life decisions.
Estate Guardianship (Guardianship of the Estate):
- Responsibilities: An estate guardian is appointed by a court to manage the financial affairs, assets, and property of an individual who is unable to handle these matters themselves. The guardian is responsible for safeguarding and managing the ward’s financial resources, paying bills, managing investments, and making financial decisions on behalf of the ward.
- Focus: Estate guardianship primarily focuses on the individual’s financial and property interests, ensuring that their assets are protected and used for their benefit. The guardian must act in the ward’s best financial interests.
- Examples: Estate guardianship may be sought when an individual, whether due to age, disability, or other reasons, is no longer capable of managing their financial affairs. It is often used for adults who need assistance with financial matters.
It’s important to note that in some cases, a single individual may serve as both a person guardian and an estate guardian, responsible for making decisions related to the ward’s personal well-being and managing their financial affairs. However, the court may also appoint separate guardians for these roles, depending on the specific needs and circumstances of the ward.
The primary goal of both person and estate guardianship is to protect and support individuals who are unable to make certain decisions or manage their lives independently. Guardians must act in the best interests of the ward and follow legal requirements and court oversight to ensure proper care and management of the ward’s personal and financial matters.
State vs Public Guardianship
State Guardians are appointed by the State when there is no one else to fill this roll https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/gac/OSG/Pages/default.aspx
Public Guardians are appointed when the individual has a large sum of money https://www.publicguardian.org/