Guardianship

A guardian is one who is entrusted by Probate Court to have custody of a minor or legally incapacitated adult. Once under guardianship the incapacitated individual or minor becomes the protectee or ward of the guardian.

Guardian Responsibilities
The guardian is the party responsible for and has the authority to make decision for their ward(s). This means the guardian will decide the following:
  • When to give consent to medical treatment
  • Where their ward lives
  • Where they go
  • Who they may visit
Importance of Guardianship
Guardian duties are important because the ward has been deemed by the court as unable to care for themselves or evaluate information, and lacks the mental capacity to make decisions. In every case the ward is placed in the least restrictive living environment to enhance their quality of life and give them a reasonable amount of freedom.

Ward Restrictions
When individuals become wards they are limited in what they are allowed to do. They are unable to vote or obtain a driver's license. They are also unable to enter into any contract, which includes marriage, and do not have the legal power to consent or serve as a witness for trial.

Obtaining a Guardian
The process of obtaining a guardian is a legal one.
  1. The 1st step is to  contact an attorney for representation.
  2. The attorney will then petition Probate Court to hear the case for the guardianship.
  3. The judge will then decide on setting a hearing, if he/she believes the case to have merit.
  4. The judge will rule whether or not the individual needs a guardian at that time. Often times, testimony will be heard and statements from the individual's doctor or care facility may be admitted as evidence.
  5. The judge will consider if the individual is able to live independently, manage their own affairs and finances, or a danger to themselves or others.
Process Time
It may take multiple hearings and several months to establish a guardian.