What should I know about guardianship?

Some adults may be incapable of caring for themselves in a reasonable way. When this occurs, guardianship is established to ensure there is a competent person available to see to the ward’s needs. 

Understanding the ins and outs of guardianship is essential, especially for the person assuming the role. You want to ensure you are up to the responsibility. You also want to make sure you remain compliant with important rules and regulations. 

How incompetence is defined

The process for determining incompetence begins with a petition, which is provided to the clerk of the superior court. Along with the petition, you must also provide a sworn statement regarding the veracity of the information contained in the petition. Upon filing, a court hearing will be scheduled. During the hearing, the court will hear any evidence provided by the petitioner on the subject of incompetence and why guardianship should be established. While legal counsel is not mandatory during this process, it is highly recommended. 

What guardians are responsible for

If incompetence is established, the guardian will be responsible for seeing to the ward’s medical and financial needs. This can entail making decisions on certain treatments and therapies, as well as paying debts or selling off assets as needed. The guardian will also be able to make decisions about where the ward lives in the interest of safety and stability. Guardians are obligated to provide the court information about their duties, which entails filing reports about the ward’s status as well as accounting reports about any financial issues. 

How financial responsibilities are determined

The ward must pay off his or her own debts without help from the guardian. While the guardian will be responsible for financial management, the person is not obligated to use his or her own money to pay down debt possessed by the ward. Additionally, guardians can also be compensated for their actions via a commission or have any expenses incurred compensated.