Guardian Laws FAQs

Here are some of the most common questions we are asked about guardianships:

Q: What is a guardianship?

A: A guardian is appointed by a probate court to be legally responsible for someone else, known as a ward, or to be responsible for his/her property. Though a guardian of someone's property can also be a corporation or association, only a person can be appointed a guardian of another person. When someone petitions the court to appoint him/her as a guardian for an incompetent ward, this is called a guardianship. This is an involuntary trust relationship. A voluntary guardianship is referred to as a conservatorship.

Q: Why would someone need a guardianship?

A: A minor without a living parent, or who has been abandoned by his/her parents, may need a guardian. An adult who is infirm, due to age or a mental or physical disability, may need a guardian to oversee his/her personal care and financial and legal affairs.

Q: Who oversees a guardian?

A: The court oversees a guardian to ensure he/she provides proper management and care of the ward's affairs. The guardian's powers are limited to that which is granted by state law, court precedent, rules and orders. Different guardianships have different powers and duties.

Q: What are some of the duties of a guardian of a person?

A: A guardian of an individual has physical custody of his/her ward and must provide for and protect his/her ward. Some duties include the following:

  • Providing day-to-day maintenance such as shelter, food, clothing and health care paid from the ward's estate.
  • Responsibility for a minor ward's education as the law requires.
    • Making medical decisions and decisions about other professional services that the ward may need.
    • If the ward is an adult with children, the guardian may also be responsible for the care of those minor children.

Q: Can I appoint a guardian in case I become incompetent?

A: Only a court can appoint a guardian. You can nominate someone in advance, though. It must be in writing and either notarized or witnessed by two disinterested parties. A minor's parents or a minor over 14 can suggest a guardian.

If you wish to become a guardian for a loved one, contact our seasoned family law attorneys to learn how best to proceed.