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What is a Guardian?

What is a Guardian?

What is a guardian?  A guardian is someone appointed by a judge to make decisions for someone else who is not capable of make their own decisions.  A guardian may be appointed to make financial decisions or decisions affecting a person’s welfare (such and medical care, where they live, or where they go to school) or both.   A guardian may be appointed to act on behalf of an adult or on behalf of a minor child. 

Guardianship of Children

Guardians are appointed for children when their parents cannot care for them.  A guardian is needed when the parent is either not available (ex. the parent has died or went to prison) or because the parent is not fit to raise the child (ex. the parent is addicted to drugs or has abused the child).  You can think of a guardianship order for a child as a custody order.  The order will give the guardian authority to make decisions for the child that a parent would usually make, such as where the child attends school or what medical care the child receives.  A guardianship does not terminate a parent’s rights.

Guardianship of Adults

Guardians are sometimes needed for adults because the adult has a disability or condition that prevents them from making appropriate decisions.  For instance, a competent adult may develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, which eventually affects their ability to make decisions.  A family member may need to seek a guardianship to ensure that the person is property cared for and not taken advantage of.  Another example of the need for adult guardianship is for a disabled child who turns eighteen, but is still not able to make appropriate decisions because of their disability. 

Guardianship is Always Court Ordered

Guardianships are sometimes confused with powers of attorney.  A guardianship can only be obtained by going to court and getting an order from a judge.  A court appearance or judge’s signature is not needed for a power of attorney.  However, someone must be competent to sign a power of attorney.  For an article explaining the difference between a guardianship and a power of attorney, click here.    

Call Us Today

If you have a loved one that needs assistance in making decisions and you believe that a guardianship is needed, feel free to call our offices today at (501) 960-6060 to schedule a free consultation or you can click here to request an appointment.

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