Sometimes it becomes apparent that a loved one can no longer take care of themselves. Basic tasks that we take for granted every day, like paying bills, or major decisions like whether or not to have a medical procedure or where to live, become impossible with age or disability. Ideally your loved one has a financial power of attorney and an advanced directive naming someone to manage their affairs on their behalf if they are unable to. If they don’t have these documents, or if they have them but the powers granted in them aren’t enough for their situation, a court may have to name a guardian to take care of them.
(This article is about adult guardianships. Guardianships for minor children until they reach the age of 18 are a different matter.)
What does a Guardian do?
A court may appoint a Guardian of the Property, a Guardian of the Person, or both. Sometimes the same person is named both Guardian of the Property and Guardian of the Person, sometimes it may be two different people. A Guardian of the Property manages the finances of the disabled person while the Guardian of the Person can make medical decisions on behalf of the disabled person.
How is a Guardian appointed?
Someone must file pleadings with the court stating why a Guardian needs to be appointed. This person is called the “Petitioner.” The Court will appoint an attorney to represent the allegedly disabled person and schedule a court date for any interested person to show cause why the guardianship shouldn’t be appointed. Based on the information provided by the Petitioner and the report of the attorney representing the allegedly disabled person, the court will determine a) if the person has capacity to make decisions for him or herself and b) if he or she does not, who should be the Guardian of the Property and Guardian of the Person.
For more information on Guardianship in Maryland, check out this article “Guardianship and It’s Alternatives” published by the Maryland Department of Aging.
Guardianship can be an expensive and burdensome process, but sometimes it is the last best option for those who cannot care for themselves. If you have a loved one who might need a guardian appointed, contact an experienced Maryland estate planner today to discuss your options.
Montefusco Estate Planning, LLC is an estate planning law firm in Frederick, MD. If you are interested in our services, contact us today. This information is written for the context of Maryland estate planning but is not legal advice for anyone. For more information, read our disclaimer.