Guardianships and why they are needed

Sometimes, due to a variety of reasons, individuals require a court-appointed guardian to make important financial, legal and life decisions on their behalf. Here’s what to know about guardianships and why they are needed in certain circumstances.

What is guardianship?

While most people might immediately think of children under the protection of a parental figure as the classical guardianship dynamic, the reality is that adult guardianships are often necessary. The status of guardian is awarded by a court of law to look after an adult and help them make important decisions such as getting married, voting, buying or selling property, making medical decisions and entering into contracts. These rights are granted to the guardian when the adult under guardianship is unable to make these decisions by himself or herself.

Who requires guardianship?

Guardianships are arrangements granted in cases where the adult under guardianship is deemed unfit to govern his or her own life. This may be due to a traumatic brain injury, developmental disability or mental illness.

The typical day-to-day activities of a guardian include managing financial affairs and seeking or approving medical care when necessary. Duties also include monitoring the physical and mental health of the person under their care and notifying medical authorities when the need arises.

Because an enormous amount of trust is involved in terms of the responsibility of the guardian to act in the best interest of the involved party, the court oversees the conduct of the guardian throughout the process. This includes requiring regular reports and routinely screening guardian behavior to detect negligence or malfeasance.

Loved ones should take prompt action if they notice the signs of deteriorating mental faculties in a family member or friend. This is a relatively common occurrence, especially in the case of aging parents who are susceptible to various forms of dementia. Establishing guardianship early can help protect their finances and overall well-being.

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