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GUARDIANSHIPS


Guardianships can be granted on a temporary basis, for a finite period of time or on a permanent basis. In addition, they can be granted for either personal or financial purposes. Most often, guardianships are granted in cases where the person for whom the guardianship is sought (the “Proposed Ward”) is a minor or has been deemed incompetent.

Much like the process for adoption, a guardianship can be relatively quick and easy with very little time spent in court if all parties involved are in agreement with the person(s) nominated to serve as a person’s Guardian. If there is disagreement, or if any of the people involved do not agree to the Guardianship, the process can be quite lengthy and can require many court appearances – including evidentiary hearings that can last several days. In each and every case, whether there is a dispute or not, the Court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem who is responsible for determining what is in the proposed ward’s best interests.

Once appointed, Guardians must report to the Court, on an annual basis, and his/her/their conduct is always subject to the Court’s scrutiny should it be called into question. A guardianship terminates when the ward turns eighteen (assuming there are no other competency concerns), regains competency or dies. If a Guardian becomes unable or unwilling to serve, the Court can appoint Standby and/or Successor Guardians. Two people can serve as Guardians (“Co-Guardians”), but this is typically not ideal as Co-Guardians must typically agree on matters and be present to sign documents, etc.