In the practice of law, attorneys assume positions of immense responsibility on behalf of the people they represent. Contract law requires that attorneys give an accurate description of contract clauses to their clients. An inaccurate clause representation could cost the client thousands of dollars and even ignite a lawsuit against the attorney.

Another area of law where the attorney takes on tremendous responsibility is in setting up and administrating guardianships. When people think of guardians, they often think of a non-parental relationship with a child. But more often than not, a guardian arrangement is administered by an attorney, and the client is not a child.

A Minor

While not every client in a guardianship is a child, it is still true that children make up a large portion of those covered by guardianship arrangements. While every court in every state would like to make sure that children in need of guardians get the help they need, getting a guardianship approved is not always a slam dunk.

Children in need of guardians are often orphaned, disowned by their parents, or have won a legal agreement to be separated legally from their parents. In these instances, the state will look for a responsible adult to step up and become the child's guardian. While the hope is that a family member will step in to care for the child and take care of the child's legal affairs, courts are sometimes forced to make alternate arrangements.

A Developmentally Disabled Adult

Developmentally disabled children who are unable to take care of their legal and financial needs as they become adults require a legal guardian. Even though many states make provisions to care for developmentally disabled people, there still needs to be someone who looks out for the physical, emotional, and financial well-being of that adult.

An adult who becomes disabled in some way due to an accident or illness may also require a guardian. In these instances, the courts must be careful to consider all of the needs of the adult in question. The adult may feel as though they can make their own decisions and care for themselves, but the reality may be quite different. A good attorney is essential in administering one of the types of guardianship cases.

A Senior In Need Of Assistance

Most states make no assumptions when it comes to the need for guardianship on a senior. It is not assumed that a family member can sign off on paperwork without legal status as a guardian, and it is not assumed that the senior automatically needs a guardian. But, when a senior is diagnosed with an advanced case of dementia or some other debilitating condition, there needs to be a guardianship arrangement in place.

Legal professionals face difficult decisions every day, and they know that their resolutions to those issues directly affect the lives of their clients. In the case of a guardianship, it is important to put a competent adult in place to make decisions on behalf of another person to make sure that the person gets treated fairly and is not cheated out of what they are entitled to. In some cases, that guardian becomes the attorney, and that takes the attorney-client relationship to a whole new level.


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.

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