A guardianship is a legal arrangement that is required to see to all of the personal and business affairs of a person who is deemed unable to care for these affairs on their own. Most people associate a guardianship with a child, but the scope of who can benefit from a guardianship is not limited by age. While there are several complex elements to every guardianship arrangement, it is relatively easy to understand the basics of a guardianship relationship.
What Is A Guardian?
A guardian is someone either appointed or approved by the courts to take care of all legal aspects of a person's life such as habitation, medical care, and financial arrangements. The guardian assumes all responsibility for each decision they make on behalf of their constituent, and the guardian also assumes all penalties that may result from their decisions.
Who Needs A Guardian?
A person who utilizes a guardian is called a protected person. A protected person is anyone who is considered by the court to be unable to make important decisions on their own. Some of the reasons for requiring a guardian include the age of the protected person, their mental state, their physical condition, and their emotional health.
The Different Types Of Guardianship Arrangements
Full Guardianship - A full guardian is placed in charge of all of the protected person's legal, financial, and personal affairs. The full guardian can either be a single individual, a group, or a legal entity of some kind.
Limited Guardianship - If it is determined that the protected person only needs help with their financial affairs, then a limited guardian would be assigned to handle those types of transactions. The limited guardian can only make decisions in the areas where they have been given authority.
Temporary Guardianship - In some cases, the court may determine that a guardian is only need for a limited period. For example, when a person goes into a coma, then the courts may assign a temporary guardian if no other arrangements have been made to protect the person's interests. Once the guardianship period is over, the guardian no longer has legal authority to make decisions for the protected person.
Joint Guardianship - When it is determined that a protected person requires the assistance of more than one guardian, then joint guardianship will be assigned to two or more people.
What Is The Liability Level For A Guardian?
A guardian is not held personally responsible for actions taken by a protected person that do not involve the guardian's responsibilities. For example, a guardian would not be held responsible if their protected person broke an expensive picture window. A guardian is not required to use their own funds to care for the protected person, unless the guardian has agreed to fund the protected person in the guardianship agreement.
The guardian is required to take all reasonable steps to insure the health and safety of the protect person. The guardian is also expected to make reasonable decisions on behalf of the protected person, which means that the guardian can be found negligent for making improper decisions on behalf of the protected person.
A guardianship arrangement is a tremendous responsibility that affects the lives of many people. When making a guardianship decision, the courts require a great deal of information and work hard to make the best decision possible on behalf of the protected person.