Guardianship is a legal process granting responsibility of a person who is unable or can no longer make decisions concerning themselves or property to another individual. Guardianship cases often are associated with children; however elderly and mentally ill adults also could need guardianship care. Guardianship in Iowa is established to manage the care of an individual and his or her estate. Guardianship is one of the substitute decision-maker classifications in the state and can be voluntary or involuntary.
Determine the individual is incompetent and incapable of making sound decisions concerning his health, well-being and finances. Medical records can offer the proof of incompetence the court requires in order to begin the filing process. The exception is in proceedings involving children.
Consult an attorney to find out if representation is needed. Petitioners are not required to hire attorneys, however the need might arise if there is a considerable amount of estate or financial planning involved.
File a "Petition for Appointment of a Guardianship or Conservatory" form with the court located in the current Iowa county of residence for the person needing guardianship. The form is considered a legal document and facts must be presented as to why the guardianship is needed.
Pay the petition filing fee. The filing fees in Iowa vary by county. The ward or the ward's estate is responsible for paying court costs associated with filing the guardianship petition.
Request a fee waiver from the court if funds are not available. Proof of financial hardship will have to be provided in order to have the fees waived. When funds are available, the ward is required to pay the filing fee immediately.
Provide the ward with a copy of the filed petition and a notice stating they have 20 days to file an answer to the petition before a hearing is scheduled. The ward is allowed to appear at all court hearings and defend his rights.
Attend the hearing to present your case in front of a judge. Witnesses can be called to support the petitioner’s guardianship request. Iowa guardianship cases are normally decided without a jury.
Wait for the court to issue a written order concerning the petition. If the guardianship is approved, further instructions will be given by the court. If the petition is denied, the case is dismissed.
Receive and sign letters of appointment from the court agreeing to the duties given. These letters will be proof of the guardian’s rights to make decisions on behalf of the ward. An annual report of has to be filed giving updated information about the ward to the court.