By: Samah Abukhodeir, Esq.
If you need to establish a guardianship for either a minor child, or for an adult who is unable to take care of themselves due to some physical or mental condition, it is important to understand what legal steps need to be taken. When this type of action is needed, it is often an urgent situation, so in some cases, you’ll be going through these steps quite quickly. Knowing what to expect, and what you’ll need to do, can help to avoid problems and delays.
In cases of adults who are mentally competent of making many of their own decisions, but unable to manage their own estate, it is possible to have a voluntary guardianship established so they can get the help needed. This is not an option for minor children, or for severely mentally disabled adults. When it is an option, however, the individual in question simply needs to petition the court for the appointment, and unless there is a strong reason why it should not be granted, the courts will approve the request.
Petitioning the Courts
In most cases, the process will start by the person who wishes to establish guardianship petitioning the court. This petition will tell the court who they want guardianship over, what type of guardianship they need, and why. Depending on the situation, a guardian may be given all decision-making authority, or only authority over certain rights. Whether it is for a minor or an adult, this is the first step in a non-voluntary guardianship.
Convincing the Courts
In many cases, a judge will need to hear the reasons for the guardianship in person. An attorney can go through this process and explain why it is necessary. The justifications for establishing guardianship over a minor compared to a disabled adult will be quite different.
Having Guardianship Granted
If the courts approve the petition, the individual in question will become a ward and no longer an alleged incapacitated person. The guardian must then act in the best interest of their wards in all areas where they have been granted authority. When making financial decisions, for example, they can’t simply use the ward’s money to their benefit. Guardianships are a big responsibility, and certainly not something to be taken lightly.
Working with an Attorney
While listed last here, this is actually the first step that should be taken whenever seeking guardianship over someone. An attorney can help you navigate through the often-complex court system, and help ensure everything goes smoothly. If you need to petition for guardianship, please contact Vasquez de Lara Law Group [Link to CONTACT US page] to learn more about this process and go over all your options.