If a person is a minor, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to meet his or her personal needs for medical care, nutrition, clothing, shelter, or safety, it may be necessary for the court to appoint a guardian. A guardian may be appointed by the court to assist an incapacitated person, who is called the “ward.” A guardian is often a ward’s parent, spouse, child, sibling, or close family friend. If a ward also needs assistance managing their assets, a conservatorship may also be appropriate.

Because the appointment of a guardian often interferes with a ward’s independence, it is necessary to ensure that there are no less restrictive alternatives to a guardianship, including the use of informal arrangements between family members, technological assistance, powers of attorney, or health care directives.

Once appointed, the responsibilities of a guardian can vary, but typically include the power to establish a residence and the duty to provide, or make accommodations for, food, clothing, shelter, and health care for the ward. A guardian also has a duty to file a well-being report each year, which provides the court with updates on the ward’s status.

If you have questions about the guardianship process, please contact one of our Estate Planning, Elder Law, and Probate attorneys.

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