A legal guardian is an individual appointed to make decisions for another individual, who is typically a minor or an incapacitated elderly person. Termination of guardianship can occur for a variety of reasons, which can vary slightly from state to state. When a legal guardianship is terminated, the obligations and duties of the guardian are terminated, as the need for the guardianship has passed.
Minor Reaches the Age of Majority
Some states allow for the termination of a guardianship or limited guardianship without a court order if the guardianship was for the benefit of a minor and the minor has reached the age of majority. In Washington, for example, the state allows for automatic termination under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 11.88.140. The guardian in this circumstance will need to file a Declaration of Completion with the court overseeing administration of the guardianship.
Change in Status of Incapacitated Person
Where the guardianship was created for the benefit of an incapacitated individual, the guardianship will terminate if the incapacitated person dies or if there is an adjudication that results in termination of the incapacitation. In essence, if the incapacitation passes and the individual is restored to capacity, the need for the guardianship will expire.
Termination of a guardianship can occur on petition and entry of a court order. Typically, this occurs in a guardianship of a minor where the custody rights of the natural parents are no longer suspended, and they now seek custody of their child. In these cases, the court will make an examination to determine whether termination is in the child's best interests.
Natural parents who have agreed to a guardianship arrangement with a custodian can seek termination of the guardianship when they no longer consent to the arrangement.