Unless the court decides otherwise, there is a standing assumption that every adult is capable of making their own decisions. But if an adult is unable to make reasonably responsible decisions, a guardian will be appointed by the court to ensure the safety and well-being of the adult in question.
This is known as “guardianship.” The term guardianship refers to the legal relationship concerning a capable adult (guardian) and someone who is no longer capable of handling their own affairs (this person is known as a ward).
Moreover, guardians can be legally authorized to make decisions in the ward’s interests. Such decisions can include matters pertaining to legal issues, financial concerns, and healthcare situations.
Depending on the guardianship clause and your respective state’s practices, guardians aren’t necessarily required to gain court approval for the various decisions they make. In fact, many states appoint a conservator to handle all monetary matters.
When Is It Necessary to Pursue Guardianship?
Indeed, there are times when an adult can make reasonable decisions in certain areas of life matters but not in others. When this happens, some courts will grant guardianship decision-making only in the areas where the ward requires assistance.
This is known as limited guardianship. Such matters are defined in detail when guardianship is established to ensure the proper handling of all related decision-making.
Guardianship becomes a necessity when an adult has become incapacitated in some manner. This could mean a complete loss of mental faculties, requiring the responsible decision-making of an adult who can manage such matters.
Of course, the criteria for a person to be considered a guardian varies in each state. The standards differ in some states and depend on whether you are seeking full guardianship or just financial supervision (conservatorship).
Generally speaking, when a person shows that they lack the ability to make reasonably responsible decisions, they will be judged as needing guardianship. A person furthermore can’t be declared as being incompetent just because they make irresponsible decisions. Rather, only if someone is proven to not have the ability to make reasonably sound choices.
For instance, a person might not be affirmed as being incompetent just because the manner in which they spend money looks strange to others. In addition, developmental disabilities or mental illnesses alone are not sufficient to declare someone’s incompetence.
The Process of Guardianship
In the majority of states, anyone who wishes to manage the well-being of a ward can apply for guardianship. A guardianship attorney is often hired so that they can submit a hearing application to the county probate court where the ward resides or will reside.
The protection of the planned ward varies by state, however. For example, some states simply require to be notified of the hearing, while others require the ward to attend the hearing. The intended ward is typically entitled to have legal representation when attending the hearing. If they can’t afford an attorney, they will be appointed one by the court.
When the hearing takes place, the court tries to conclude whether the intended ward is indeed incapacitated. If so, the court will then decide the extent to which the person needs assistance.
If it is determined by the court that the planned ward is in fact incapacitated, it will be up to the court to decide whether the person wishing to be the guardian is fit for the role.
Who Can Be a Guardian?
A guardian can be either a competent adult or a non-profit agency. Moreover, a guardian may also be a private corporation. Oftentimes, however, the guardian is the spouse of the ward or a close friend or relative.
In the event that a reasonable guardian can’t be found, the court will often appoint a guardian via an agency that is publicly financed. Before this happens, the court will consider those who are closest to the ward. It’s generally better for the guardian to be someone who knows and understands the wants and needs of the ward rather than a disconnected corporation or agency.
It’s always best to have a guardianship attorney to assist you in such matters. Your guardianship attorney will serve as an unbiased party who only has the best interests of all parties involved.
Contact Crary Buchanan Attorneys at Law Today
Crary Buchanan is a general practice law firm dedicated to providing expert legal services in the state of Florida. Our lawyers have significant legal expertise in virtually every major area of law, and most of our associates are Board Certified by the Florida Bar in their respective areas of proficiency.
This extensive legal experience, coupled with our many years of service and dedication in the community, enables our lawyers to provide comprehensive representation to our clients. So if you need a knowledgeable guardianship attorney, contact the law office of Crary Buchanan today.
We proudly serve Stuart and the surrounding areas and are here to assist you with guardianship and many other legal matters.
The information in this blog post is for reference only and not legal advice. As such, you should not decide whether to contact a lawyer based on the information in this blog post. Moreover, there is no lawyer-client relationship resulting from this blog post, nor should any such relationship be implied. If you need legal counsel, please consult a lawyer licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.