A Guide to Guardianship

Guardianship is a court supervised relationship established for the protection and benefit of another person; generally a child or disabled or incapacitated adult. This individual is known as the ‘ward’. Once a legal guardian has been appointed by a judge, he or she will be responsible for the child’s wellbeing and living interests.

The Role of a Guardianship Lawyer

If you are trying to pursue guardianship of a child, you should seek legal advice from a lawyer. At the minimum a lawyer can ensure you have filled out the right paperwork and fulfills the qualifications laid out by the court. A lawyer can also meet you on mandatory court dates, be your legal advocate, and reach the goals you have set out to achieve. Most importantly, a guardianship lawyer may be able to expedite this process which could make a big difference in the life and well being of the child involved.

The Different Types of Guardianship Roles

Although every state has its own guidelines for guardianship, most will include the following options:

  • Person Only Guardianship – The guardian will be responsible for the care, maintenance, education, and support of the ward.
  • Limited Guardianship – Also known as a guardian advocate, this may be ordered when the ward is capable of making certain decisions on their own, but not all. This type of guardianship is often granted when a disabled or incapacitated adult is involved.
  • Co-Guardianship – When two guardians are appointed by the court. This order acts as added protection and ensures each guardian does not abuse their role or granted powers.  
  • Guardian of Property – A guardian who will provide or manage monetary resources for the ward’s care.
  • Guardian ad Litem – A guardian who will safeguard, protect, and manage the interests of the ward during any legal proceedings.

The Termination of Guardianship

Although every guardianship is different, most will last until at least one of the following happens:

  • The ward becomes of legal age
  • The ward passes away
  • The ward’s finances have been used up (*in select types of guardianships)
  • The judges feels guardianship is no longer needed
  • The ward asks the court for a new guardian (i.e. due to neglect, abuse, etc.)
  • The guardian asks the court to resign
  • The biological parents of the ward ask to end the guardianship

Who Might Serve as a Guardian

If you are interested in serving as a guardian of a child or disabled adult, you will need to:

  • Be a legal adult
  • Have a significant role in the wards life
  • Understand the needs of the ward
  • Are ready to provide for those needs
  • Have the time and financial resources to care for the ward
  • Have no criminal record
  • + More

Filing for Guardianship

The process of filing for, and obtaining, guardianship can be timely, costly, and complex. For this reason if you are serious about being a guardian, you should have a guardianship lawyer help you with the process. The following are generalized steps of how the process works:

  • You will file a petition for Appointment of Guardian in the probate court of the ward’s residence.
  • You may need to notify certain people, such as relatives or agencies, that you are seeking guardianship.
  • You may need to show for a court hearing where the judge will listen to you and all interested parties. The judge will make a  ruling based on what they hear.
  • The ruling should be filed with the county clerk.

Do You Need a Guardianship Lawyer

Most guardianship lawyers are also family lawyers. In general you will want to have one when you file for guardianship. If you don’t understand why a lawyer can be beneficial or would like to know more about the process, please reach out to Scottsdale AZ Guardianship Lawyer or locals for more information.

Thank you to Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys for providing their expertise and insight on Guardianship.