A guardian or conservator is a person appointed by the Court when a person is unable to make his or her own decisions. They are generally appointed to make decisions for minors, or for individuals who have become incapacitated due to accident or illness.
You may have given some thought to who would take care of your children in the event of an accident or life-threatening illness. Another thing that people do not expect, yet should prepare for, is that that they may someday become incapacitated. Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other conditions can render a person unable to make legal decisions regarding their own care or care of dependents. These issues can be addressed in advance through a durable power of attorney. However, where there is no power of attorney, the courts will appoint a guardian.
There are various types of guardianships appointed by the court, depending on the length of time the guardian will be needed, and the extent of their authority to make decisions for the minor or incapacitated person.
The legal proceedings to appoint a guardian are typically initiated by the friends or family of the minor/incapacitated person. If the allegedly incapacitated person disagrees, they can contest the guardianship. They may even concede that a guardian is needed, but contest the particular guardian their family is seeking to appoint.
Courts will appoint a guardian when a person becomes unable to manage their personal and financial affairs. Simply being an older adult, and having some minor illness or condition will probably not be enough to warrant appointing a guardian. Moreover, courts will not appoint a guardian just because your family or loved one questions your decision-making.
Guardians are legally required to act in the best interests of the incapacitated person. They are prohibited from commingling their own funds with the person on whose behalf they are acting. Courts can, upon application, remove a guardian who is not acting in your best interest.
A guardianship can be a lot of work, and should not be taken lightly. The guardian must accept responsibility for the role. Guardians are required to keep extensive records. Guardians of a minor may be held liable for the actions of the child. The minor or incapacitated person may receive Social Security, public assistance, or welfare, but it may not be enough to make ends meet. Although the parents of a minor are responsible for supporting their child, potential guardians must be prepared to shoulder costs in the event that this assistance is not enough.
Deciding to appoint a guardian for a loved one can be a difficult decision. Whether you are looking to appoint a guardian, challenge a guardianship, or are considering becoming a guardian, you need an experienced Towson guardianship lawyer who can answer your questions and provide sound advice. Learn more about how the Towson guardianship lawyers at the Law Offices of Jayme L. Levy LLC can help you today, by calling us at 410-512-6605 or contacting us online. We represent individuals in Baltimore County, Howard County, Baltimore, Ellicott City, and Columbia.