Guardianship

Click here for an FAQ on how guardianship and Supplemental Needs Trusts inter-relate and can improve quality of life and independence for your loved one with a disability.

Guardianship is when a person is appointed by a judge to take care of a disabled adult. This person might be appointed to manage the disabled person’s finances, and/or heath care decision-making.

Types of Guardianship

Guardianship of the Person – When the appointed guardian of the disabled person makes medical decisions (gives “informed medical consent”) or makes decisions about the disabled person’s living on their own.

Guardianship of the Estate – If a disabled person cannot take care of their finances A Guardianship of the Estate may be necessary. Social Security, pensions, and other benefit issues may be handled by establishing a “representative payeeship.” A representative payee is a person chosen by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to handle a disabled person’s benefits issues. More information on representative payeeships is available at SSA’s website.

Getting Guardianship of the Estate is much more complicated than getting Guardianship of the Person. It is best to get a lawyer to help you with this.

Obtaining any form of Guardianship usually requires eleven basic steps:

  1. Obtain packet of forms from Clerk of Court
  2. Fill out Petition Form and get it notarized
  3. Get medical doctor to fill out Physician’s Report
  4. Obtain a bond and fill out appropriate bond forms
  5. Sign the Guardian’s Oath and get it notarized
  6. File all documents with Clerk and pay filing fees
  7. Go to Judge’s scheduler and ask to be put on Judge’s docket
  8. Have someone at least 18 years of age and not related serve the person with disabilities with all of the documents no later than 14 days before the upcoming court date.
  9. Provide notice of upcoming court date to any adult siblings and non-custodial parent.
  10. Appear before the Judge on the right day, at the right time, with all your papers in hand and the person with disabilities at your side and say “Thank You” when Judge grants your petition.
  11. Obtain certified Letters of Office from Clerk of Court.