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Rights and responsibilities of a guardian

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2024 | Guardianship

Guardianship is an important part of estate planning. It helps care for minors and partially or fully incapacitated adults (wards). Guardians must know their rights and duties to ensure they meet the ward’s best interests.

What is a guardianship?

A guardianship is a legal arrangement where a court appoints a guardian to care for a ward. Guardians essentially manage the personal and/or financial affairs of a ward. Oftentimes, guardians are relatives who have already established a relationship with the ward. They step in as guardians because the ward is unable to handle their affairs themselves. This applies to minors or to adults incapacitated by physical or mental conditions.

Rights of a guardian

Guardians have several rights to manage the ward’s personal and financial well-being.

General guardians can make decisions about the ward’s healthcare, education and living arrangements. They can also access any of the ward’s records to make these informed decisions. Guardians also represent the ward in legal matters to protect their interests. Finally, guardians have full control of the ward’s property and assets.

Responsibilities of a guardian

With these rights come important responsibilities. Guardians must act in the legal and ethical best interest of the ward. Major responsibilities include providing care, managing finances, and reporting to the court.

Guardians must ensure wards receive proper medical treatment, education, and daily living needs. They must also handle estate planning and manage the ward’s assets that are under their care. This means paying bills and keeping accurate financial records.

Guardians must also regularly update the court about the ward’s condition. They also report the management of their estate, including filing financial statements.

Becoming a guardian

Becoming a guardian involves a legal process with several steps:

  • Filing a petition: Guardians must file a petition for guardianship in court. In this petition, they will explain the reasons for seeking guardianship.
  • Court investigation: The court will investigate to see if the ward needs guardianship. If guardianship is necessary, the court decides if the proposed guardian is suitable.
  • Court hearing: During a court hearing, a judge reviews evidence and hears testimony. This allows the judge to decide whether to grant the guardianship.
  • Ongoing oversight: The court continues to oversee the guardianship. They make sure the guardian fulfills their duties appropriately.

Navigating guardianship successfully

Guardianship ensures vulnerable individuals receive appropriate care. Guardians must balance the need to make decisions for the ward with the duty to act in their best interests.

Managing the rights and responsibilities of guardianship can be tricky. Understanding their role and seeking help can help guardians perform their duties effectively.

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