The Legalities of Guardianship: What You Should Know
Among the many things you can do to protect yourself and those in your care is ensuring that circumstances don’t interfere with your responsibilities. In this regard, guardianship offers a way to ensure this, providing the legal framework for fulfilling your responsibilities when you’re no longer in a position to do so. When considering guardianship, a family law attorney in Scottsdale can be of assistance throughout the guardianship process.
This guide will cover some key aspects of guardianship.
What is Guardianship?
Guardianship is the legal arrangement in which someone else takes responsibility for your children or those in your care. Those in your care could be children, elderly relatives, or any adult without the mental capacity to care for themselves. Guardianship is also a legal process for ensuring the management of another’s finances. Usually, the person who is under another’s responsibility in guardianship is a minor; such a person is referred to as a ward.
Once guardianship comes into effect, the guardian is responsible for a host of things on the ward’s behalf. Depending on the jurisdiction, a guardian may also be called a “tutor” or a “conservator.”
The Purpose of Guardianship
Guardianship is there to ensure continuity of care or proper management for an individual or an estate. Too often, people pass away or become incapacitated due to a medical condition or an accident. In rare instances, some simply abandon their responsibilities and disappear. Guardianship ensures that the wards in such a situation are taken care of.
When it comes to the guardianship of an estate, the guardian is usually in charge of such an estate until such a time when the ward is of age to assume full responsibility. A good example is when an orphaned child is bequeathed on a huge estate. In such instances, the courts may appoint a guardian to oversee such an estate until the child reaches a certain age.
Types of Guardianship
There are several types of guardianship. It’s crucial to understand them. This ensures that you make the best choices for your children and all those in your care should you choose to make guardianship arrangements. Different situations may warrant consideration of a specific type of guardianship.
The main types of guardianship include:
i)Full guardianship: Here, the guardian becomes responsible for all decisions regarding the ward. Such decisions could include the choice of medical care, where to live, and providing basic necessities.
ii) Limited guardianship: This type of legal arrangement only confers limited authority regarding the ward. For example, the guardian may only be allowed to make healthcare decisions.
iii) Joint guardianship: Sometimes, there are multiple individuals acting as designated guardians. They all have to agree on any decisions regarding the ward or estate in question. An example of joint guardianship is when two individuals act as guardians; this is also called co-guardianship.
iv) Short-term guardianship: This type of guardianship is only valid for a limited duration. For example, someone about to undergo a complicated surgical procedure may opt for this type of guardianship to ensure their wards are attended to while he/she is indisposed.
v) Guardian ad Litem (GAL): Sometimes, the court may need to appoint someone to represent a ward’s interests during legal proceedings. That’s when such guardianship becomes necessary.
These are the broad guardianship categories. However, guardianship is usually for something specific. The following are examples of specific guardianship situations.
Guardianship of Minors
This is the kind of guardianship most people are familiar with. Typically, it involves a young child or a minor whose parents aren’t capable of taking care of them. This could be due to death or some other situation. Living parents can still make such arrangements in advance in case anything happens to them.
Guardianship of Adults
Such guardianship aims to ensure that adults incapable of properly looking after themselves are taken care of. A good example is an elderly person with dementia or any other adult incapacitated for whatever reason.
Most people treat their pets as extensions of themselves. As such, they usually want to ensure the pet’s well-being should they be unable to provide the necessary care. Pet guardianship ensures this.
When it comes to managing finances and assets, financial guardianship provides the best legal outlet. Usually, a financial guardian must be someone fit to make responsible financial decisions on behalf of those they represent.
<h3>Guardian vs Custody</h3>
In the context of minors, custody usually implies that someone related to the child is given guardianship to a certain degree. If it’s a parent, it could be full custody, meaning the said parent is responsible for every facet of decision-making regarding the child’s interests. This implies full guardianship. In instances whereby the parent is deemed unfit, a court-appointed guardian assumes custody. This is known as guardian custody– custody that involves elements of guardianship.
Choosing a Legal Guardian
Given the scope of what a legal guardian has to do, it’s crucial to choose the right one, thus ensuring that you or your loved ones are in good hands. However, this can be a daunting task.
Guardianship is a critical part of estate planning; that’s why you should ensure that it is handled properly. Given how unpredictable life can get, having such an arrangement in place can help avoid a lot of problems.
Choosing a legal guardian entails asking some key questions:
i)How capable and responsible are they?
ii) Do they have the necessary financial resources and stability in their lives to be competent guardians?
iii) Where are they located?
iv) Do they have the mental capacity for it?
v) Would there be any significant changes in your child’s or ward’s life if you were to sign over guardianship?
These are some of the key questions to ask. Ideally, you want to select an individual with whom you have complete trust to take care of your child or other relatives when you can’t. Of course, choosing a person for guardianship doesn’t always mean the court will approve it. For example, you may choose a best friend for your child’s guardianship. However, the court may overall choose your guardianship. Always remember that the court’s main concern is the child’s best interests.
All in all, guardianship is not something to be taken lightly. Whether you’re placing someone in charge of your estate or your child’s affairs, always ensure to choose carefully while following all the necessary legal processes. At Genesis Family Law and Divorce Lawyers in Scottsdale, AZ, we can help you. From the moment you want to consider guardianship, our experienced lawyers can explain all your options clearly, ensuring that you understand what you’re getting into. Contact us here https://familylawattorneymesaaz.net/scottsdale/.
Name, Address, and Phone
Genesis Family Law and Divorce Lawyers in Scottsdale AZ,
7702 East Doubletree Ranch Road #336,
Scottsdale AZ 85258,
Follow Us On Social Media