ADULT GUARDIANSHIPS & CONSERVATORSHIPS
There are certain circumstances where an adult may need assistance managing his or her own affairs. If this is the case, one option is to seek an adult guardianship or conservatorship. There are three main circumstances where an adult may need a guardian to assist in managing his or her own affairs.
One circumstance is where there is a parent who needs to assist their child with special needs who has reached 18 years of age or older. Although the child has reached the age of majority, he or she may still need assistance handling daily affairs, but because he or she is legally considered an adult by law, the parent no longer has the legal authority to make those decisions on their child’s behalf.
Another circumstance is the reverse where a child or other close family member that needs to help their own parent or grandparent because he or she no longer has the capacity to handle their own affairs.
Finally, the third circumstance is when there has been an accident or sudden illness, and the injured individual is now unable to communicate their wishes or properly handle their own affairs.
Whether they need help with medical or financial affairs, we can help you get the authority you need to provide the assistance to help.
Whatever your circumstance may be, it will likely be necessary to seek court permission to act on another’s behalf and seek guardianship. When a guardian or conservator is appointed for an adult, the court is removing important legal rights from that individual, therefore, it is extremely important to understand whether your circumstance truly calls for the need of a guardianship and/or conservatorship.
A guardian should be appointed if you are seeking to make medical decisions for another person and a conservator should be appointed if you are seeking to make financial decisions for another person. In certain cases, both a conservatorship and guardianship may be necessary.
Seeking a guardianship and/or conservatorship may be uncontested, however, if the adult’s family members or friends do not feel that you are the appropriate individual for the role, then seeking the guardianship and/or conservatorship can quickly become contested. There can be many emotions and competing ideas when a family is trying to figure out what’s next for a loved one. A skilled attorney will help you navigate these challenges.
When filing a petition for guardianship, certain family members must be notified of the petition. The adult in need of a guardian, called the “proposed ward,” may be represented by an attorney appointed by the court, and the court can also appoint a “guardian ad litem” to ensure the best interests of the proposed ward are being met. Additionally, before a guardian is appointed, a medical professional has to evaluate the proposed ward and then, a hearing will be held. If the evidence proves that the proposed ward needs the assistance offered by a guardian, then certain rights will be removed from the proposed ward and the court will appoint a guardian and/or conservator.
Once appointed, the guardian/conservator will be in charge of the ward’s affairs and they will have to report their actions to the court at least annually. The judge carefully reviews these reports to make sure that the ward is being properly cared for and that their finances are being appropriately managed. The guardianship or conservatorship will continue until it is no longer needed, and in some cases, permanently.
Seeking an adult guardianship and/or conservatorship can become extremely overwhelming and complicating as striping an individual of certain rights is not taken lightly by courts. It is important to consult with an attorney who is well versed in this area of law. The Atlanta lawyers at Buckhead Family Law can help you understand the legal process and answer any questions you may have regarding same. Call us today to schedule a consultation.