Guardianships and Conservatorships
A court may appoint a guardian for an unmarried minor if all parental rights of custody have been terminated by prior court order or upon a finding that the child has been neglected, abused, abandoned, or whose parents are unable to provide a stable home environment.
A person seeking to be appointed as a guardian for a minor must file a petition and a hearing will be held to determine whether the guardianship should be granted. The court usually appoints an attorney to represent the child or children subject to the guardianship. This attorney is called a “guardian ad litem” (GAL) for the child. The GAL will make recommendations to the court as to whether the guardianship is appropriate and whether the person seeking to become the guardian is appropriate to serve in that capacity.
The court may appoint as guardian any person whose appointment would be in the best interests of the minor child. If the child is fourteen (14) years or older, the child is allowed to nominate the person they wish to act as guardian for him or her. The court is required to appoint the person nominated by the child unless the court finds the appointment is not in the child’s best interest.
Conservatorships are usually not necessary for children as a conservator’s job is to handle the finances for the ward and most children do not have personal financial assets. However, conservatorships are possible and appropriate when a child does have personal financial assets that need to be managed for the child.
If you have concern for a child and want to petition the court to become a guardian for this child I can represent you in the process.
If you are a parent of a child and someone has petitioned to become the guardian for your child and you, either do not believe a guardianship is warranted, or you disagree as to who the guardian for the child should be, I can represent you in that capacity. If a petition for guardianship is filed and you disagree with it you must respond to it or the petition may be granted without your input.
When a loved one has reached the point they can no longer make responsible decisions about their own finances, it is time to consider the available options. It may be you have a loved one with a developmental disability or other condition that makes it impossible for them to manage their own affairs, or it may be that an elderly family member has become disabled to the point that they are unable to manage their own affairs, if so a guardianship and conservatorship may be necessary. I can help you through the sensitive process of obtaining a guardianship or conservatorship over your parent or other loved one. As an experienced lawyer, I can help you understand if a guardianship or conservatorship is necessary and guide you through the process to obtain court approval.
- Guardianship: a guardianship enables an appointed individual to manage the day to day decisions of a loved one, such as managing medications, healthcare appointments, daily care, and other needs.
- Conservatorship: a conservatorship enables an appointed individual to manage an individuals finances or property, such as paying bills, managing investments and other daily finance needs.
Process for Obtaining a Guardianship or Conservatorship
Once a request has been made to the court for a guardianship or conservatorship, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem attorney to represent the ward in the proceedings.
The court will also appoint a court visitor, who is a person trained in law, nursing, psychology, social work, or counseling or has other qualifications that make him/her suitable to perform the function and is an officer, employee or special appointee of the court with no personal interest in the proceedings. The court visitor will meet with the ward, the person or persons petitioning for the guardianship or conservatorship and other persons involved with the ward either as friends or family members or care providers. The court visitor will be allowed access to medical records of the ward and other documents that may be pertinent to a particular case. The court visitor will prepare a written report for the court with his/her findings and recommendations.
Finally, the court will appoint a doctor to write a report to the court as to why the ward requires a guardianship or conservator.
The court will review the court visitor report, the doctor’s report and listen to the recommendations of the guardian ad litem, and if a guardianship or conservatorship is recommended and no one is contesting it, the court will order it during a short hearing. During that hearing the court will make sure that the guardian and/or conservator understand their responsibilities. If someone is contesting the guardianship or conservatorship, then a hearing will be held in which witness testimony and exhibits will be considered by the court and the judge will make a decision on whether a guardianship or conservatorship is necessary. In addition to helping you through this difficult process, I will ensure you understand your duties as a guardian or conservator, how to move forward, and how to maintain compliance with annual report filings.
Compassionate Guidance through Difficult Decisions.
I understand how difficult it may be to consider that your parent or other family member is incapable of managing day to day tasks on their own. However, it may be in his/her best interest to have assistance and it may fall to you to see that assistance is provided.