Understanding The Basics Of Guardianship

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It’s estimated that there are approximately 1.5 million adults under the guardianship of a family member or friend. Guardianship gives a person the legal right to care for and to make important decisions for another person, who is usually an adult who is unable to make decisions for themselves or is a minor.

If you’re wondering how guardianships are granted, they’re usually established when a child or elderly or disabled adult is found to need care and help managing their affairs. Traditionally when it comes to a child, guardianships are granted the following ways:

  • A child’s parents grant guardianship to someone.
  • A child’s parents have their rights terminated.
  • A court find that the best course of action for a child is to be placed with a guardian.

Other situations where guardianships for children are granted include parents, who name a guardian in their will and military parents who name a guardian while they are serving overseas. Guardianships might also be granted in situations involving divorce or family court or adoption.

When it comes to adults, guardianships are usually granted in situations including:

  • Chronic illness, which has left a person incapacitated.
  • Sudden illness.
  • A disabled person of adult age who requires constant care.
  • An adult who is deemed show behavior that could potentially be harmful to themselves.

So how guardianships established? They can only be established by order of a court. Before the court grants a guardianship, a petition must be filed in probate court. Once a petition is filed, a hearing is scheduled to determine if guardianship is the best course of action. In the case of adults, medical examination records are required at a hearing. In the case of children, proof that guardianship is needed must be established.

Believe it or not, it is also possible for guardianships to be prevented. This is usually done by creating an estate plan, which is essentially a series of legal documents that prepares for all possibilities and eventualities. The estate plan requires a health care advance directive or a health proxy and folks may also choose to establish a living trust to ensure any finances are properly managed by whoever is named to do so under power of attorney.

Guardianships can be extremely important lifelines in the lives of children and adults who require care. By taking steps to establish guardianship, people can ultimately put those in need in a much better living situation.

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