A guardian is a person who is appointed by a court to control and take care of interests of a person who cannot handle their own affairs. There are two types of guardians
- Guardian of the person – the guardian controls and takes care of the ward’s personal interests. They can make decisions about where there person lives, medical care, and schooling
- Guardian of the property – has control of the ward’s finances.
It is possible for one person to have both roles, as guardian of the person and the property but it is not required.
Courts appoint guardians of incapacitated adults and minor children. Parents who have small children can appoint someone the guardian of their children who would act in the child’s best interest if they die prematurely. Appointing a guardian of young children is an essential component of any good estate planning.
Courts appoint guardians of incapacitated adults when a petition is filed by a person of interest (usually a family member) that the ward is in danger because they are physically incapacitated or mentally incapacitated and in danger of being taken advantage of by unscrupulous persons. This situation often happens in the case of elderly persons who have developed Alzheimer’s or some other debilitating disease.
A person who is appointed guardian of a ward is under the continued supervision of the court. The guardian of the person must make at least annual reports of how the ward’s money is being managed and maintained. The guardian must seek permission from the court to make major expenditures on behalf of the ward. The guardian is also compensated for their services. Any expenses they incur on behalf of the ward should be deducted from the assets being held for the ward.