What is Guardianship?
Guardianship is a legal proceeding to protect adults with dementia, mental illness or other impairments who cannot make decisions for themselves and/or their assets or communicate those decisions. Unless someone else has pre-existing legal authority to act, a court must be asked to appoint someone to assist as a guardian, typically a family member. The incapacitated person has a right to an attorney and to object to the appointment of a guardian.
A person who has a guardian appointed is called a "ward." Guardians frequently decide where the ward will live, how the ward's property is invested, what type of financial benefits the ward needs, and the type and scope of health care needed by the ward. Guardians are frequently required to post a bond, and seek the court's permission before disposing of property, before entering into contracts, and before making major decisions about the ward's life. Guardians are also required to report to the court regarding the ward's health care needs, property, finances, and expenditures. The continuing involvement of the court provides added protection for the ward and those interested in the ward's welfare.
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