If you have a loved one that cannot, for one reason or another, care for themselves, you may need to seek a guardianship to ensure they are taken care of. However, many people hesitate at seeking a guardianship, in part because they do not know if they are qualified to handle it, or even if they can become a guardian in the first place. So who can become a guardian, and how do you become one if you decide to seek a guardianship?
What is a Guardian?
A guardian is someone who has been appointed by a court to watch over the affairs of another person who is, for one reason or another, incapable of caring for themselves. Guardians have the responsibility of caring for the legal, financial, and/or medical needs of the person they care for, who is known as their ward. This includes ensuring their personal well-being, ensuring they are able to attend any appointments, and managing their finances on their behalf.
When Should You Seek a Guardianship?
You can seek to become someone’s guardian if they are unable to care for their personal needs, either temporarily or indefinitely. This could include elderly relatives who struggle to manage their personal affairs, children who cannot legally handle many important matters on their own, or those with certain physical or psychological problems that impair their ability to care for themselves. A guardianship will last as long as the court deems it necessary, which in some cases may only be temporary (such as a guardianship over a child lasting until they are 18), but may also be permanent (such as a guardianship over an elderly relative suffering from dementia).
Who Can Become a Guardian?
In theory, just about anyone can become the guardian of anyone else, if they are appointed by the court. There is not even a requirement that you be a relative of the person you are seeking a guardianship for. However, the court will only grant a guardianship to someone who can demonstrate they are willing and able to accept the extraordinary responsibility of that position. This means the court will tend to favor relatives or other personal acquaintances of the ward, although they will occasionally appoint someone else entirely if they feel none of their other relatives, friends, or other acquaintances are qualified.
How Do You Become a Guardian?
In order to become a guardian, you must file with the appropriate court to request a guardianship over the person you want to become the guardian of. The court will then begin an investigation to determine whether a guardianship is appropriate, and whether you (or someone else) might make for a good guardian. Ultimately, however, the decision is up to the court, which is why it’s important to have legal representation to give you the best chance of success in your case.
The guardianship law attorneys at David J. Lorber & Associates, PLLC will work with you to determine whether a guardianship might be necessary for your loved one, and help you to get a guardianship that will suit your needs. For comprehensive guardianship and elder law services in New York, call David J. Lorber & Associates, PLLC at (631) 750-0900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our Setauket office.