What is a Guardianship?

A Guardianship is a formal, legal relationship established in a Court of Law is set up between a WARD (a person who is incapacitated and unable to care for themselves ) and a GUARDIAN (a person who has been appointed by the Court to make decisions and necessary arrangements to insure the that Ward is taken care of) 


Are all Guardianships the Same?


No.  Guardianships are set up to care for the Person and the Estate.  The Court can decide if both kinds of Guardianship are needed.  If so, one person can be Guardian of the Person and Estate or separate people can be appointed, one for the Guardianship of the Person and one for the Guardianship of the Estate Guardians can be either an individual, or more than one individual working together as co-guardian.  In some cases, if no person(s) are known to the Court to be suitable, the Court can appoint an institution (such as County Welfare Services) or an attorney to serve as Guardian. .  In addition to this, a Guardian may be appointed for a specific term in a Temporary Guardianship or if the need is on-going they are appointed as a Permanent Guardian.

Common Guardianship Situations

A Guardian is commonly appointed in the following situations:

 -  Loss of parent of minor children

 -  Incapacitated adult

 -  Incapacitated child who has reached the age of 18


What does a Declaration of Guardianship do?


A Declaration of Guardianship does not mean that you will be forced to have a guardian at some time in your life.  It means, however, that if you do need a Guardian, you will have an input into who that person will be. 


It is difficult to think that we might need someone to take care of our basic needs one day, but the situation is not as difficult to face, knowing that the person we will rely on is someone we know and trust.  The Declaration of Guardianship makes your preferences known to the Court so that if you are ever deemed to be incapacitated and unable to care for yourself, the Court will know who you would like to fill that role.  This is important not only for you, but also for the Guardian.  Final approval by the Court would consider the person’s ability to serve at the time of need, so you can rest assured that no one will be put in this position if it is not appropriate at the time.


No matter who you select, it is good to consider:

  • Who would handle personal decisions for you in a way that is most compatible with your own philosophies and

  • Would the person you are considering be good with handling money? 

  • Will the responsibilities involved be too much of a burden for him/her?

  • Would you want to have co-guardians?  Would they work together well and support each other?

  • Who would be good back up guardian(s) in the case that the original selection is not available or will not qualify?

  • Discuss this with potential guardians so you both know the situation from the other person’s perspective