Guardianship is necessary when someone is considered an incapacitated person. Someone does not have to be a minor to have a guardian. Guardians are appointed to people of all ages, demographics, and financial backgrounds.
To file for guardianship, a petition must be filed with the court.
There are two parties in a petition: (1) the petitioner and (2) the respondent. The petitioner is the person asking for the guardianship. The respondent is the individual who allegedly needs to be under guardianship. If the court grants the guardianship, the respondent will be referred to as the ward.
Guardianship hearings require a mandatory court apperance. The respondent’s appearance can be waived through a physician.
Notice of the guardianship hearing must be provided to anyone who is considered an interested person. An interested person could be a family member, hospital administrator, family friend, ect… If anyone wants to object they can do so. Objections can be filed into the court record before the hearing or someone can show up to the hearing and object in person.
Letters of Guardianship:
Before the hearing a proposed Order Granting Guardianship and Appointing Guardian should be filed. Proposed Letters of Guardianship should also be filed. If the judges agrees that a guardian should be appointed and all statutory required documents have been filed, the judge will likely sign the order and letters. Letters is a deceiving term because it refers to a document not letters between parties. The Letters is the document that the guardian can show to banks, doctors, and other entities. Letters are the document with the power.
It’s important to note that each case is unique.
The court may appoint a court visitor to visit the respondent at his or her home before the hearing. If this happens, the court visitor will file a report with the court that details the visit. The court might also require that the proposed guardian have a background report completed and put on file with the court.
A lot of people are concerned about the cost of filing a case with the court. Whether or not someone can afford to file a guardianship petition with the court is based upon the respondent’s income. For example, if the respondent has disabilities that prohibits them from working, the court can make a finding that the county will pay all court filing fees and even attorney’s fees.