Guardianship of an Adult
Guardianship of an adult is the process of granting legal permission to an adult to act and make decisions on behalf of another adult who is incapacitated due to a physical or mental disability. You must follow a specific procedure when filing a petition for adult guardianship. Here's a brief guide to the procedure.
File Your Petition for Guardianship
The first step in filing for guardianship of an adult is to determine the type of guardianship you require. There are two main types of guardianship:
- Permanent guardianship: This guardianship remains in effect indefinitely until it's terminated by the court or the incapacitated adult dies.
- Temporary guardianship: This guardianship is created only in an emergency in which there's imminent danger to an adult, their estate or both. Temporary guardianship lasts for a specifically determined period of time, after the date of issuance of the Letters of Guardianship, unless extended by the court.
You can apply for the following types of temporary or permanent guardianship:
- Guardian of the person, allowing you to make health and welfare decisions on behalf of the incapacitated adult.
- Guardian of the estate (sometimes called Conservatorship), allowing you to manage the incapacitated adult's property and financial affairs.
- Guardian of the person and the estate, allowing you to make health, welfare, property and financial decisions on behalf of the incapacitated adult.
Once you've decided on the type of guardianship you require, obtain the relevant petition from the clerk of the Probate court in the county where the adult resides.
You should obtain:
- A Petition for Appointment of Legal Guardian of an Adult, if applying for permanent guardianship.
- A Petition for Appointment of Temporary Guardian of an Adult, if applying for temporary guardianship.
Once you've obtained a Petition, fill out all the relevant sections and then file the Petition with the clerk. Filing fees vary by state and county but you should expect to pay between $800 to $1,000.
The court will enlist the services of a court investigator and physician to determine whether adult guardianship is the most appropriate solution. After reviewing the Petition, the court investigator's report and the physician's report, a judge may decide to schedule a hearing.
At a hearing, a judge will determine whether to provide you with adult guardianship. If you're appointed as a guardian, the judge will grant an Order containing details of the legal rights and duties granted to you. Limited guardianship means you have the authority to exercise only the rights and duties specified in the court Order. Full guardianship means you have the authority to exercise all rights and duties on behalf of the incapacitated adult.
File Your Order
File your Order with the clerk of the Probate court and pay the required filing fee. You may also be required to pay a bond in an amount determined by the court. Once you've paid your bond, you'll take an oath and file it with the clerk. You should expect to pay a small fee for filing.
Request Letters of Guardianship
Once you've filed your oath, the clerk will issue you Letters of Guardianship. The Letters of Guardianship provide evidence of your appointment as the adult’s guardian. It is recommended that you pay for a couple of certified copies of the Letters as this is the official document you will use to prove your authority when making decisions on behalf of the incapacitated adult.