What Is Guardianship?
Guardianship is a legal relationship the court establishes giving the guardian authority and a duty to care for another person, who is called “the protected person.” Guardianships can also be created to care for a property. There may be alternatives to creating a guardianship, depending on your situation. These include powers of attorney, living will or trust, and health care surrogacy.
When a guardianship is created by the court, it removes only the rights the protected person is incapable of handling. These rights can include consent to medical treatment, end-of-life decisions, voting, and marriage. Establishing guardianship requires due process of law to protect the rights of the protected person. We strongly recommend the services of an experienced Cedar Rapids guardianship attorney. They can help navigate the complex legal system and protect your rights. If you have pressing questions, reach out to Arenson Law Group, PC today. We can help.
When Is a Guardian Appointed?
Under normal circumstances, parents have the right to decide for their children and adults have the right to make decisions for themselves. However, in some circumstances, this may not be possible. When someone needs to step in to care for a child or an adult, the court may appoint a guardian.
For example, a guardian may be appointed over a child’s estate if the child inherits assets. This can protect the assets until the child reaches adulthood. Guardianship may also be appointed if an adult is incapacitated. The guardian then makes healthcare and financial decisions until the protected person recovers or the guardian helps guide end-of-life decisions.
In the case of an adult, the court must determine they are incompetent and unable to make decisions for themselves. The law defines incompetence to help protect your rights. For example, a guardian may be appointed for:
- An adult who is mentally disabled after their parents have passed
- An adult who becomes mentally or physically disabled after an accident
- An adult whose chronic substance abuse renders them incapable of taking proper care of themselves, their family, or property
What Does a Guardian Do?
A guardian can have several responsibilities. These can include consenting to and monitoring medical treatment. Individuals who are incapacitated may have a guardian appointed to them to make medical decisions. This includes decisions about prescription medications, surgical interventions, and other medical treatments.
Guardians also monitor non-medical services, like education, counseling, and living arrangements. In the case of medical treatment, a guardian is needed to consent for the release of confidential information. The guardian maximizes the protected person’s independence in the least restrictive manner possible. They are responsible for reporting the status of guardianship to the court.
A court-appointed guardian for real and personal property has different responsibilities. These include getting appraisals, protecting assets, receiving income, and making the appropriate disbursements.
The goal of guardianship is to restore the rights of the individual after due process. In some cases, guardianship may be for a lifetime. This might happen if an individual is significantly injured and subsequently unable to care for themselves. The court does an annual review and assessment to determine whether the guardianship should be maintained.
Types of Guardianship
There are multiple types of guardianships the court can appoint. Guardianship of a minor child may be the first type you think of, but there are others to consider. There are three basic categories of guardianship.
Full guardianship is a legal relationship in which full responsibility and decision-making are granted to the guardian for the benefit of the protected person. Full responsibility can include guardianship over finances, personal affairs, and legal issues. A limited guardianship gives the guardian responsibility for specific needs for the individual, such as healthcare. Finally, joint guardianship can be a full or limited guardianship responsibility that is given to more than one guardian.
The court can appoint guardianship over a minor child or an elderly person. This is sometimes called elderly conservatorship. When an adult is unable to care for themselves or make decisions, legal guardians can be appointed when a person is unable to make their own health care decisions.
Individuals may appoint guardianship for their pets in a living will or trust after they pass. This can include money for the care of the pet. Legal conservators, also called financial guardians, manage financial assets for the protected person.
Contact Arenson Law Group, PC for Help with Guardianship Issues
Guardianship issues can be complex. The court appoints an adult they believe is the best choice to make the right decisions for the child, adult, or personal property disbursement. However, if you believe the appropriate decisions aren’t being made, or your loved one is not being cared for the way you believe they would want, you have options.
Contact the experienced and knowledgeable Cedar Rapids guardianship attorneys of Arenson Law Group, PC. Our legal team has had decades of experience in the community and can help you sort through the legal issues involved in guardianships. Call our office today at (319) 363-8199 to schedule your initial consultation.