Every adult has the right to make their own decisions about their life. There are times when an adult can no longer fulfill that responsibility, because of mental or physical problems that incapacitate them. When that happens, the legal remedy is guardianship or conservatorship. These processes appoint a person or even an organization (a non-profit agency, or a public or private corporation) as a guardian, or conservator to make the important legal, financial, and health care decisions for the individual (who is called the “ward”).

There are many ways to structure a guardianship, and a guardian does not have to have complete control of the ward’s affairs. There are limited guardianships, for example, where the guardian only makes decisions about one area of the ward’s life and not others.

The first step in setting up a guardianship is to establish the need for one. The ward has to be declared incompetent to handle his or her affairs. The process is initiated by the person or organization seeking guardianship, by filing a petition with the court. The next step is a court hearing, where a judge looks at the petition and makes a decision if this really is a case of incapacitation and whether a court appointed guardian is necessary.

Setting up a guardianship is not a decision that is taken lightly by courts. No court wants to take away a person’s freedom to make decisions about his or her own life, unless there is a serious reason for doing it. Most states require guardianship to be a last resort, after less restrictive legal remedies, like power of attorney, trusts, etc., have been put in place.

If you or someone close to you is in a situation that may require a guardianship to be set up, you should consult an attorney who is experienced in such matters. Susan Grissom at Grissom Law, LLC can help find you the best solution to the guardianship issue. Contact us at 678-781-9230 or email us at grissom@grissomlawfirm.com to schedule an appointment.


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