The Guardianship Process

Care Guardians has the expertise to help you navigate the guardianship process, which can take from several weeks to a few months.

That process begins with submitting a petition to the court documenting why the disabled person requires guardianship. With this petition, the court requires a physician’s report about the person’s physical condition and mental capacity along with recent medical evaluations to help the judge determine the appropriate type of guardianship.

The petition also cites who the proposed guardian would be.  Family members are not automatically named as the legal guardian for a disabled relative. Sometimes, relatives may be unwilling or unable to serve as guardian.  A not-for-profit company, such as Care Guardians, can assist in these cases.

Within 30 days of the petition filing, the court schedules a guardianship hearing.  The disabled person, or respondent, is served with a summons to attend this hearing and provided a copy of the petition.  Other interested parties must also be notified of the pending proceedings and court date.

Prior to the hearing, the court may appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) to the case.  The GAL is an attorney or trained lay person who objectively evaluates the respondent’s condition and need for guardianship.  The GAL interviews the respondent and provides a report and opinion to the court.

During the hearing, the court reviews all relevant information, including the respondent’s financing and housing, the physician’s and GAL’s reports, and the testimony of any witnesses. If the respondent disputes the need for guardianship, he or she can request a jury trial, present evidence, and cross-examine witnesses. At the completion of all proceedings, the court makes its ruling on whether limited or plenary guardianship is warranted.  If so, the respondent becomes the guardian’s ward.

The court oversees both person and estate guardianships.  For the former, an annual report may be required to provide details about the ward’s personal care and condition. For estate guardianships, all expenses are subject to court review and periodic accounting occurs to ensure the ward’s funds are used appropriately.  Care Guardians can handle these responsibilities and coordinate court reporting with the ward’s legal representative.