In the event an individual is unable to manage his/her own personal affairs, and specifically decisions regarding their care, placement and medical treatment, when powers of attorney are not effective, there is a legal mechanism to protect such persons. This is called a guardianship proceeding and typically involves the court appointment of a guardian for a minor, disabled, or elderly person who is found legally incapacitated and is unable to manage their personal and medical affairs. Upon appointment, the court-appointed guardian is legally authorized to manage the care of the Ward (the incapacitated person).
Examples of situations in which a guardian may be required include:
the need to care for a parent or relative who has Alzheimer’s, Dementia or other cognitive disability;
the need to resolve family disputes over the care of a parent or relative with diminished capacity;
parents who need the requisite legal authority to care for an adult disabled child; and
friends or relatives of a minor whose parents are temporarily or permanently unable or unavailable to care for such minor child.
The guardianship process requires the filing of court documents, the investigation by a Court Visitor who reports to the court regarding the need for a guardian and appropriateness of the nominated guardian, attendance and presentation of evidence at a court hearing for which proper notice has been provided, and the post-appointment filing of court documents and annual guardianship reports.
Given the complicated and emotional process related to a guardianship proceeding, children and other relatives of the incapacitated person (referred to as the Respondent until a guardian is appointed), and especially those living out of state, frequently require legal advice about their legal rights and obligations with respect to such matters. In specific, family members and in particular those who are petitioning the court for a guardianship on behalf of the incapacitated person, often require assistance with respect to setting forth their position regarding the need for the appointment of a guardian, who the appointed guardian should be, the development of a care plan for the ward and the development of a plan for the management of the ward’s assets, especially when a guardianship matter becomes adversarial due to family conflicts.
Golombek Law, LLC has extensive experience handling guardianship proceedings and contested guardianship proceedings and in particular:
- Representing family members or other interested persons in petitioning the court for a guardianship on behalf of their incapacitated relative;
- Representing family members or other interested persons in objecting to or setting forth their position with respect to a guardianship proceeding which has already been initiated and supporting them through mediation in an effort to resolve guardianship disputes;
- Advocating for a person with diminished capacity in expressing his/her wishes with respect to a guardianship appointment, whether any limitations are appropriate, and/or who they wish to be appointed as guardian; and
- Representing a court-appointed guardian with respect to a guardianship proceeding.