Guardianship is a 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 friend.
Two Types of Guardianship:
An adult person, who is eighteen years of age or older, who cannot make decisions about his/her legal rights due to illness, a mental condition, or injury, is referred to by the law as an "incompetent" person. For example, an elderly person who suffers from dementia may be adjudged an incompetent who is in need of a guardian, or a person who sustained severe injuries in an accident and is unable to manage his/her affairs for a time may need a guardian.
Minor guardianships are court-supervised procedures which permit a grandparent or other concerned individual to become a child's guardian. The court may appoint a guardian for a person under the age of eighteen years, who is need of an adult, 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 of age, or if the court determines that the need for guardianship has ended.
Particulars of Guardianship:
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 the ward's person or estate (finances/property). 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. An emergency guardian may be appointed in either a minor or incompetant guardianship situation.
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.
Establishing a Guardianship of an Adult:
Establishing a Guardianship of a Minor:
Items That May be Required Once A Guardianship is Established:
Continuing Education for Guardians of Adults:
The Wayne County Probate Court offers many opportunities for guardians of adult wards to learn more about their roles and responsibilities as guardians. A list of 2019 educational offerings can be found here. Please know that seating is limited. You must call ahead and register for the session you wish to attend. You can do this by calling Rae Banks at (330) 287-5577. Please indicate the session you would like to attend, your ward’s name, and leave your phone number so that the Court can contact you if the session is canceled due to inclement weather or the location is changed.
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 costly legal errors.