What is a Guardianship?

A guardianship is a legal appointment through the courts. It gives an individual (the guardian) the legal authority to make executive decisions over someone else (the protected person) with regards to directing and authorizing health care needs, housing and placement needs, and other necessities related to ensure the safety and welfare of an individual incapable of making those decisions for themselves.

When is a Guardianship necessary?

It may be necessary to petition a court to appoint a guardian for a person:

  • Who has a age related illness, physical or mental disability that prevents them from taking care of their own basic needs or make executive decisions related to healthcare need, Living enjoinment or taking care for themselves (Instrumental Activities of Daily Living).
  • Who as a result of illness or disability are in danger of substantial harm to themselves or others.

Under some circumstances, it may be necessary for a court to appoint an emergency guardian, who can temporarily act during a crisis (extreme events that result in a medical emergency) until that individual regains the ability to make their own decisions.

What are a Guardian's Duties?

The guardian makes decisions about how the protected person lives, including their residency, health care needs, food, and social activities. The guardian is supposed to consider the wishes of the protected person, as well as their previously established values, when making these executive decisions. The guardian is intended to monitor the protected person, to make sure that they live in the most appropriate, least restrictive environment possible, with appropriate food, clothing, social opportunities, and medical care.