Obtaining guardianship for a loved one is a dramatic and unpleasant occasion, but it is often an essential step towards protecting a person and ensuring they receive the assistance they need. Unfortunately, many people become guardians without understanding the responsibilities that entails. Here are five things you need to know about becoming a guardian:
- You need to apply for a guardianship with the court
- Obtaining a guardianship is not as simple as filing some paperwork and getting started on caring for your loved one. Instead, once you file for a guardianship, an investigation will be conducted to determine (1) whether a guardianship is needed and (2) who will become that person’s guardian. While you might be considered as a guardian, the court could choose to appoint someone else, including a complete stranger.
- You will report to the court about your loved one
- Assuming you are appointed to become your loved one’s guardian, you will effectively become accountable to the court for their well-being. This means you will need to commit to visiting the individual at least 4 times per year. This not only means ensuring their physical needs are met, but also ensuring they are able to make appointments and social engagements.
- You need to keep detailed financial records
- In addition to accounting for their physical well-being, you must keep careful financial records for your ward. You must detail all the person’s income and assets and how their assets are spent. These records must be detailed, and even minor expenses (such as purchasing them coffee or snacks) need to be accounted for. While this can be tedious, it is an essential part of a guardian’s job, to ensure your ward is not being financially exploited.
- You are legally responsible for your ward’s interests
- In addition to everything else, a guardian is responsible for representing their ward’s interests when they are incapable of making decisions on their own behalf. This may include things like making medical decisions on their behalf, deciding how to invest resources, and potentially even representing them in court. While a guardian does not need to be perfect, they need to demonstrate they have their ward’s best interests at heart.
- You can face legal repercussions for abuse or neglect
- Guardians who abuse or neglect their wards can face serious legal repercussions, including potential criminal charges. That is why people who seek guardianship for their loved ones should be prepared for any of the many challenges that may arise. If you have a loved one in need of a guardianship, you should speak to an attorney with experience handling guardianship law, to ensure you are prepared for whatever might happen.
If you or a loved one are dealing with legal issues related to guardianships, or you are dealing with any other issue related to elder law, you will need specialized legal advice. The attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. are skilled in all aspects of elder law, and are dedicated to representing clients with diligence and compassion. To speak to an attorney or to schedule a consultation, call 866-825-1LAW.