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Guardianship is court-supervised relationship established to protect the legal rights and interests of the person in need of protection called the "ward." A guardian can be a family member or a concerned friend.
An adult person, who is eighteen years of age or older, who cannot make decisions about their legal rights due to illness, a mental condition or injury is referred to by the law as an "incompetent" person. For example, an adult, elderly person who suffers from dementia may be adjudged an incompetent who is in need of a guardian.
Minor guardianships are court supervised procedures which permit grandparents or other concerned individuals to become a child's guardian. The court may appoint a guardian for a person under the age of eighteen years, a minor, who is need of a person, other than the parents, to make legal decisions for the care of a minor. Applicants must be screened for suitability, but once established, the guardianship ends only upon the child's reaching eighteen years or if the court determines that the need for guardianship has ended.
Legal Status of the Guardian
For legal purposes, it is as if the guardian were standing in the shoes of the ward. The guardian must act in the best interests of the ward.
Guardian of Person and/or Estate
A guardian of the person of the ward protects the physical needs of the ward. A guardian of the estate of the ward controls and protects the financial assets of the ward.
In an emergency, the Court may appoint a guardian without notice to the ward or the ward's family in order to protect the ward from immediate, irreparable harm to their person or estate. A guardian appointed on an emergency basis may serve for a very short time and the court must conduct a hearing on whether the guardianship should continue.
Termination of a Guardianship
A minor guardianship ends when the ward attains the age of eighteen years, if the minor dies or when the court determines there is no longer a need for the guardian.
An incompetent guardianship ends upon the death of the ward, if the ward regains competence or when the court determines there is no longer a need for the guardian.
The information contained on this web site is not legal advice, nor should it substitute for the assistance of a qualified attorney. Good legal assistance can speed up the court process and prevent making costly legal errors. Get more information on obtaining an attorney.
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