Guardianship

Guardianship is the legal process by which a person obtains authority from a court with probate jurisdiction to make decisions involving another person’s care. The proposed ward must be found to be “incapacitated”. The person appointed as a Guardian is often a family member, as family members are given priority for appointment under the Guardianship Code. The person who needs assistance is called a ward. This person may be a minor (by law a minor is presumed unable to handle his or her own affairs) or an adult.

Guardians are highly supervised by the Court, which creates the Guardianship. A Guardian may only do those acts authorized by the Court. A Guardian may be given powers over the person of the ward, only over the estate or power over both the person and estate depending on the circumstances.

By law “Incapacitated person” means: A) a minor; or (B) an adult individual who, because of a physical or mental condition, is substantially unable to provide food, clothing, or shelter for himself or herself, to care for the individual’s own physical health, or to manage the individual’s own financial affairs. The statute as construed by the Courts is held to require a finding that a person is mentally unable to perform the acts listed above. Mere physical incapacity is not legally enough to permit creation of a guardianship.