Chances are that, at some point in your life, you’ve heard of a “guardian” before, especially in the context of children, or older relatives, or people with certain disabilities. However, you might not know what a guardian is, or why someone might have one. Fortunately, the idea is easy to understand, and it’s good to know about just in case you, or someone you know, has a guardian appointed for them.
Guardians are a kind of legal representative appointed by a court to make decisions on behalf of, and care for, people who cannot fully care for themselves for one reason or another. Most often, this means guardians are appointed to care for children, incapacitated elders, and adults with certain kinds of disabilities. A guardian has a legal duty to place the interests of their ward, the person they’re caring for, above their own, and can be held legally and financially responsible if they abuse their position. Usually, a guardian will be a close relative of the ward, such as a spouse, sibling, or adult child, although in some cases a close friend may be appointed instead. Rarely, if a suitable friend or family member can’t be found, a neutral attorney will be appointed a guardian instead.
Guardians are generally appointed only in cases where a person was incapacitated before signing a durable power of attorney, or in the case of children, where they lack the legal capacity to sign over their power of attorney. If a person has signed a durable power of attorney, the person they signed their power of attorney to will be the one who makes decisions on their behalf. A guardian and a person with power of attorney serve basically the same roles, the primary difference being that one is chosen by the ward themselves, and one is chosen by the courts.
If you or a loved one are dealing with legal issues related to guardianships or forming a durable power of attorney, you’ll need specialized legal advice. The attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. are skilled in all aspects of elder law and guardianship law, and are dedicated to representing clients with diligence and compassion. To speak to an attorney or to schedule a consultation, call 866-825-1LAW.