Guardianships: What are They? What is the Process? Does it Apply to Me?

March 4, 2021

Attorney Ashley Hawley does her best to simplify the complicated guardianship process in her latest vlog.  If you have questions regarding the estate tax, Ruder Ware’s Estate Planning Team is here to help.

Video Transcript:

Hello, I’m Ashley Hawley. I am an attorney on Ruder Ware’s Trusts & Estates team. My topic for you for today is guardianship.

So, several of my teammates have done video blogs on powers of attorney documents and how drafting powers of attorney documents can avoid guardianship. When we’re talking about this kind of avoidance of guardianship, we’re talking about adult individuals who become incapacitated later in life and need a guardian. Guardianship is still necessary in the instance where we have children, or a disabled individual who is 17 years old and turning 18. But in the realm of an adult who becomes incapacitated, a guardianship can be avoided in most instances where there are powers of attorney in place.

But, what is the guardianship process? So the guardianship process is a court process. Basically what happens is an individual petitions the court, asking to be appointed as a guardian-either of the person’s person, the person’s estate, or both-and a judge will make the determination as to whether a guardianship is actually necessary. There is a petition to the court. There is a guardian ad litem who is an independent attorney who is appointed to just oversee the process, and to make sure that the guardian is the appropriate person, and that the guardianship is necessary in the first place. There is also a physician who gets involved who files a physician’s report that is specific on a specific court form for the court. And at the end, there is a hearing in front of the judge where the guardian ad litem, the proposed guardian, and maybe the proposed ward appear to tell the judge the situation and to get a guardian actually appointed.

Once the guardian is appointed, there is an inventory that has to be filed if it’s a guardianship of the estate. Annually there is an accounting that has to be filed as well, as well as a report of the well-being of the ward.

So, I have very much oversimplified this process of guardianship for the sake of time, but if you have questions about guardianship, the process, whether it’s an appropriate thing for your particular situation, you should feel free to reach out to a member of my team here at Ruder Ware and we can answer absolutely any questions that you might have about guardianship and the process.

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