Guardianship is a legal relationship whereby a court has ordered a person must serve as a protector over another vulnerable individual, known as a ward. Wards are either minors in need of adult care or incapacitated adults incapable of making their own decisions regarding health or financial matters. State codes provide a process by which the court can reverse a guardianship either because the ward is no longer in need of a guardian or the relationship is not in the best interests of the ward and another guardian is more well-suited to the position. Guardians must petition the court for termination of guardianship, notify all interested parties and attend a termination hearing.
Determine that the relationship meets the criteria for termination. In the case of a minor ward, most states require that the ward has turned 18 or passed away in order to cease guardianship. In exceptional circumstances, a guardianship can be terminated if the situation presents itself as no longer in the best interests of the ward and a replacement guardian is necessary. In a situation involving an incapacitated adult, guardianship can be terminated in the event of death of the ward, capacity is restored or the guardianship relationship is no longer in the best interests of the ward.
Complete a petition for termination of guardianship. Some states provide petitions to be filled out while others require guardians to draft a petition. In either event, the petition must fully identify the ward, including his full legal name, date of birth, Social Security number and address. The same identifying information is required regarding the guardian as well. Most importantly, the petition must address the reason for termination of guardianship. Applicants must indicate whether the ward turned 18 or passed away; or if the request is based upon other circumstances, which the guardian must fully explain.
Read More: Legal Guardianship Procedures
File the petition along with a summons in the courthouse where the guardianship was originally awarded or the courthouse in the ward's current jurisdiction. Some states require multiple copies to be sent along with copies of birth certificates or driver's licenses for both the ward and guardian. You must then provide copies of the petition to all material parties including the ward, his spouse if applicable, a conservator and the ward's attorney if he has one. The guardian must provide proof in the form of an affidavit that all parties received notification of the pending termination hearing.
Attend the guardianship hearing. Evidence must be presented to provide the judge with enough information to make a decision on whether guardianship should be terminated. This could be in the form of birth or death certificates proving the ward has turned 18 or passed away. If circumstances dictate a change in guardianship, the guardian must provide testimony or evidence as to why the relationship is no longer feasible. Other interested parties who received notice are free to present evidence either in support of or opposition to the termination.
Adhere to the court's decree. Once the judge makes a decision, it will be final. If the petition is declined, the guardianship relationship must continue, and the guardian's duties and responsibilities must stay in tact for the benefit of the ward. If the court terminates the relationship, the guardian no longer has any possessory rights over the ward's property and he may no longer make decisions on the ward's behalf. Appointment of a new guardian will take place in a separate legal proceeding.
Stephanie Reid has been writing professionally since 2007, with work published in the Virginia Bar Association's "Family Law Quarterly" and the "Whittier Journal of Child and Family Advocacy." She received her Juris Doctor from Regent University and her Bachelor of Arts in French and child development from Florida State University. Reid is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Maryland.