So, what is a legal guardian, and what he does? Simply a guardian is a person whose opinions get priority over the ward. A legal guardian is selected by following the guardianship laws. Sometimes it includes the activities of the court.
The law defines the situations when a legal guardian is needed and what he can do. The legal guardian has an impact on the financial and health decisions of a child.
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What Is A Legal Guardian?
Many of us cannot take care of their properties and themselves. The person who cannot take care of his personal issues needs a guardian. A guardian takes care of the properties and other issues for the ward. He has the legal authority to decide on behalf of the ward. The guardian also has corresponding duties.
When Is A Legal Guardian Needed?
There are four situations when the court nominates a guardian for someone. These four situations are-
- Guardians for an incapacitated senior
- Guardianship for developmentally disabled adults
- Guardianship for minors
- Guardianship for incompetent adults
Guardianship for Incapacitated Seniors
If it is proved that a senior is incapable of taking care of his own and his properties due to age or infirmity, the question of a legal guardian for him arises. Sometimes, the chance of being exploited also makes it important.
In other cases, it is counted that the senior is unable to do his daily activities without the help of an assistant. Any family member, health care worker, professional, or a clergyman can initiate the proceedings of guardianship.
Selection Procedure of Legal Guardian for Incapacitated Seniors:
The very first step of this process is checking that if the senior person is incapacitated. A few hearings will be taken to ensure that. If the person is really incapacitated, a few questions arise-
- Is a guardian needed?
- Is there any already existing power of attorney or health care proxy?
- What will be the extent of that legal guardianship?
- Who can be the best suitable guardian for him or her?
Guardianship for Minors
Guardianship for minors is of two types. They are-
- Natural Guardian
- Legal Guardian
Natural Guardian: Children have natural guardians from their birth. Parents are the natural guardian of a minor child.
Legal Guardian: Generally, state laws provide the rights of legal guardianship to the parents of the minor child. In the absence of natural guardians, the question of new legal guardianship arises. Sometimes, due to improper behavior or act, parents may lose custody.
Generally, parents decide who will be the legal guardian after their death or in their absence. But that must be approved by the court.
Guardianship for Developmentally Disabled Adults
A child who reaches the age of majority but is not mentally or physically developed may face problems regarding his or her daily activities.
In these cases, the person needs a legal guardian. The parents of that disabled person may start the process of becoming his legal guardian after hitting his majority age.
Guardianship for Incompetent adults
If a court finds a person incompetent for his activities, the court may appoint a guardian.
The procedure for Selecting A Legal Guardian
Generally, the selection process of a legal guardian involves court. There are few rules to regulate the guardianships. These are called guardianship laws. According to these rules, the legal guardian is selected.
Guardianship laws also define how guardianship should be carried out. According to these laws, the court looks for some information before providing someone the guardianship-
- Before selecting someone as guardian, the court finds out the relation between the ward and the proposed guardian. Judges also try to figure out how deep and intimate the relationship is. And if there is any chance of future vulnerability.
- While choosing a guardian, the court gives priority to the unique needs of the ward.
- The court also counts the opinion of the ward. Judges ask the ward about his opinion about the proposed guardian.
- What will be the reaction of the curator towards the unique or special needs of the ward is also an important issue.
- The judicature also fixes the duration of the guardianship. After the duration, the guardianship may be renewed, or it will be over.
What can a Legal Guardian do?
Legal guardians make the following decisions on behalf of their ward-
- Medical decision
- Contract decisions
- Financial decisions
- Other legally binding statements
A legal guardian has the power of taking care of and managing the rights and property of a person lawfully. A guardian may be needed because of age, understanding, self-control, or incapability. Moreover, s/he can apply his/her power to make decisions on behalf of the ward over others.