A guardianship, also known as a conservatorship, lets you legally act on behalf of a person who is otherwise unable to make legal decisions for themselves. Guardianships are usually reserved for minors and anyone who is mentally incapacitated.
How do you appoint a guardianship?
It’s no small undertaking to petition for guardianship over a grown adult. In a lot of cases, there are hoops to jump through and a lengthy process to judge whether the person is truly unable to make their own financial and legal decisions.
The first step is filing a petition that brings the individual’s mental capacity into question. This is filed on a state court level by any interested person, usually the family, friends or even coworkers of a person.
How do you determine whether someone needs a guardianship?
The state court assigns physicians, nurses and social workers to examine the person as well as their environment. This is all done to get professional opinions on the mental state of the person, and it isn’t a light undertaking.
A committee will meet with the person to determine their mental ability and awareness. After each member of the committee has met with this person, they will prepare a written report that gives an overview of the mental and physical condition of the person.
The report is given to the person’s attorney, who will then inform the individual about the report and the required court appearances to determine if guardianship is needed. After the attorney meets with their client, they are also required to write a report attesting to the mental awareness and physical health of their client.
What happens in court?
All the evaluations are brought into court, and a formal hearing is held. This can look different from hearing to hearing, so it’s recommended that individuals pursuing guardianship bring any and all questions to an experienced lawyer.