How to Get Guardianship of an Adult

By Susan S. Davis
Adult guardianship can involve making both personal care and financial estate decisions.

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Guardianship of an adult is a process that involves the court appointing an individual to make decisions for someone who is no longer able to do that safely for himself. Generally, this becomes necessary when a family member or elderly person has had an accident or suffers from a form of mental illness deterioration like Alzheimer's disease or a form of dementia. There are two kinds of guardianship available from the court. Guardianship for a person involves decisions relating to health care and living arrangements, while guardianship for an estate entails making financial decisions.

Gather all relevant information. List out all facts concerning why you believe it is necessary to obtain guardianship of the adult. Assemble records and other paperwork associated with the adult as they become available. Consult with independent and assisted living professionals to find out how to ascertain whether the adult can manage everyday activities in their lives. Consider hiring an assessment professional for the adult to determine the extent of their abilities. This is critical when you must prove your case in court.

Decide which type of guardianship will be necessary for your purposes. For example, guardianship of the estate covers financial matters, while personal guardianship pertains to decisions concerning medical procedures and health care, whether to admit the person to a nursing home, and hiring assistants to help with care. It may be necessary to obtain both types of guardianship in order to effectively handle everything adequately for all of the concerns of the adult, such as bill paying. Full guardianship of the estate may be required to ensure that everything is handled on time and to prevent unnecessary disruption in their lives and yours.

Check with your local state court family law department for information on which laws pertain to guardianship. Review all of the necessary laws. Find out which petition papers are required to be filed in court and what the fees are. There are many forms that are required by the court system when applying for guardianship. Ask court clerks, attorney service companies or paralegal services to review the paperwork after it is completed to ensure that you have all of the necessary forms and that it is done properly.

Arrange to have the petition papers for guardianship filed with your local court for guardianship. Find out how many copies the court requires for filing. Ensure that you have the required fees available. Consider using an attorney service to file the papers for convenience and to advance applicable fees. Ensure that you retain a copy of all of the papers that are filed and that you obtain file-stamped copies from the court for your records.

Prepare to appear in court. Follow up with the court to find out about court dates. Have all of your paperwork ready, as well as testimony as to why you feel a guardianship is necessary. Be aware that the court may also rely upon opinions of various doctors and psychiatrists. If there is any objection to the guardianship, an attorney or guardian ad litem may be appointed to ensure that the adult's best interests are represented. This could cause a lengthy process to occur which will require more paperwork and testimony.

About the Author

Susan S. Davis is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the L.A. Press Club. She was managing editor of "The Hosting News" and a columnist at Online Dating Magazine. Davis attended Chicago's Medill School of Journalism, and holds an A.A.S. in radio broadcasting from Minnesota Business College and a certificate in paralegal studies from University of California, Los Angeles.

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