What is a Guardian?
A Guardian is a person or institution that has the legal authority to care for and make decisions about another person. They can be appointed for any person who has a disability and cannot make decisions for themselves, or for someone who does not have their own children.
After a court hearing, an appointed guardian will be given legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the person they are caring for. Guardianship can be used in many different circumstances including:
- When there is no appropriate family member or friend available to take care of an individual and they need assistance with day-to-day tasks like shopping and paying bills.
- When there is no one available to provide long-term care for an elderly person or someone who is ill and requires help with everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing, and feeding.
Why are Guardians important?
Here are a few reasons why they are important:
- They can safeguard your assets. If you happen to be incapacitated, they can ensure that your assets are being managed properly and protect them from being abused.
- They can look out for your best interests. Guardianship is often ordered in situations where one party’s best interests aren’t being considered or the person doesn’t have anyone else to look out for them. By appointing a legal representative, you can rest assured that someone is looking after the other person and ensuring their rights are respected.
- They can make sure your wishes are followed through. If you have specific wishes regarding medical treatment, living arrangements, or more, having a they could help ensure those wishes are carried out as intended.
What are the responsibilities of a guardian?
The responsibilities will vary, depending on the needs of the child and whether or not they have a parent still living.
However, generally speaking, they are responsible for ensuring that the people they are taking care of have:
- Food, shelter and clothing
- Access to medical care
- Access to appropriate financial resources.
How to get guardianship
As a guardian, you are appointed by the court to make decisions on behalf of someone who is unable to act on their own behalf. This might be because they cannot make decisions on their own or because they’re incapacitated for some reason.
There are different kinds of guardianship depending on what kind of decision-making powers you need to have over someone. For example, if you’ve been appointed temporary status by a judge because your sibling is incapable of acting in her own best interest, it’s likely that you’ll only be responsible for making health care decisions.
Different kinds of Guardians
There are different kinds and they are appointed in different situations, with different legal rights and responsibilities. Here are a few examples:
Legal guardianship is a court order that gives one person the right to make decisions about another person’s health, education, and welfare. The court also can appoint somoeone for an adult who is unable to manage his or her own affairs due to disability or illness.
Conservatorships are similar to guardianships, but they are used only when there is no one else legally authorized to make decisions for a person who has been determined by the court to be mentally ill or developmentally disabled, or incapacitated. A conservator may be appointed for someone who doesn’t have the mental capacity to manage their own financial affairs.
Being a guardian is not always easy. In the course of carrying out guardianship, you may need to do things that are difficult or uncomfortable. For example, if your ward wants to stop taking prescribed medication, you may have to ask the doctor to report this problem and work with them on an alternative solution. The court can be involved in many aspects of the role and can even ask for reports from you about how things are going for your ward.
GreySteps is where you will learn how to find the best senior care options for yourself or loved ones. We provide guides and resources for independent living, long-term acute care hospitals, hospice and other senior care options.