Guardianship is a court-ordered nomination of a person to undertake the responsibilities for a disabled adult or minor. Guardianship can be granted for the ward’s person (responsibility to care for the ward’s well-being), for the ward’s estate (responsibility to manage the ward’s property) or both.
Guardianship for a disabled adult arises when a disabled minor reaches the age of 18 or an aging family member is no longer able to take care of him or herself and powers of attorney were not previously executed.
Guardianship for a minor arises when a close relative wishes to care for a minor. Another situation where guardianship for a minor arises is when a minor is to receive property or an inheritance. Even if a minor is under the care of his or her parent(s), guardianship is necessary to allow for the management and receipt of property in the minor’s name.
Guardianship can be temporary or long-term. Temporary guardianship normally lasts for a period of sixty (60) days. Temporary guardianship is available for emergency situations until a formal guardianship can be established. In the case of a minor, guardianship terminates on the minor’s 18th birthday or upon the minor’s death. For a disabled adult, guardianship terminates on the ward’s death or when the ward is relieved from his or her disability. Guardianship can also be terminated for a disabled adult or minor if the guardian is found to have abused the ward or mismanaged the ward’s property on petition from either another seeking guardianship or the court.