As the family member or loved one of an adult who seems unable to care for himself, it is often difficult to know when to step in. For this reason, the courts have developed guardianship proceedings that establish, from a legal perspective, when a person is in need of a guardian. State laws will vary to a certain degree, but in most cases a guardian is appointed when a person, known as the ward, is determined to be incapacitated. If you are appointed as the guardian, you will typically be able to make personal decisions for the ward, such as where she will live or what doctor will treat her. Financial decisions are generally not within the control of a guardian but are made by a conservator if one has been appointed. Often, you may be appointed as both a conservator and guardian. Only a court can determine if someone needs a guardian, but the following are common reasons that a Fayette County attorney recommends you petition for a court determination:
- Your loved one is low functioning or mentally challenged to the point that she cannot make decisions for herself
- She has a mental illness that impairs her ability to make basic decisions
- She is unable to make medical decisions or fails to follow through with medical treatment
- She has a physical condition that impairs her ability to care for herself
- She is homeless or at risk for being homeless as a result of her inability to care for herself
- She has a drug or alcohol addiction that impairs her ability to make decisions
Pyke & Associates, P.C. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.