There are several circumstances under which you might find yourself taking on the role of someone’s legal guardian. This is usually a duty that is fraught with responsibility, whether the individual under your guardianship is a minor child or an elderly or disabled parent; however, learning a few facts about what it means to be a legal guardian may help you feel more confident about stepping into the role.
1. There Are Many Financial Factors Involved
When you agree to take guardianship of any individual, you will likely be responsible for a variety of financial duties. Not only may you have to provide funding for a minor child’s education, food and clothing, but you might also be responsible for any kind of trusts or accounts until that child becomes an adult at the age of 18. In the case of elder guardianship, you may be responsible for paying debts out of that individual’s checking accounts and making financial decisions on his or her behalf. The limits of your duties could depend on how disabled or ill the elder person is.
2. You Will Be Appointed By the Court
Before you can take over as anyone’s individual’s legal guardian, your local court will have to approve the relationship and give you the legal right to see to your charge’s care. For example, if you have a developmentally disabled sister that needs care after your parents pass away, you may have to petition the court and request the role. The court may consider a variety of circumstances before allowing you to take over guardianship, including your relationship to the individual, past criminal record, if any and your ability to care for the individual.
3. Guardianship Is Monitored
Once you are named anyone’s guardian, the court’s involvement is not likely to end there. Most courts monitor this situation, especially if you are handling any money on behalf of your ward. This includes any financial decisions, such as deciding whether a full-time assisted living facility is affordable for your mother, who owns an annuity yet is struggling with dementia. Most financial choices you make may well be closely scrutinized by the court that appointed you guardianship, so consider keeping careful and complete financial records in regards to spending.
4. There Are Different Types of Guardianship
Most types of guardianship duties range from those that are all-encompassing to those that are limited or shared with other people. Limited duties may include making decisions that are beyond an individual’s scope of understanding, such as investment choices. A court might grant both you and your spouse as co-guardians of a minor to offer that child stability and to ease the burden of single guardianship.
There are many responsibilities to take on when you decide to become a guardian. Contact an estate attorney in Cherry Hill, NJ today for further information.
Thanks to Klenk Law for their insight into estate planning and things to know about legal guardianship.