Completing guardianship forms in every U.S. jurisdiction begins the process of establishing a guardianship relationship with a minor child or incompetent adult. Most states provide these forms at local probate courts. Some states still require the submission of a formal petition to begin guardianship proceedings, but the majority of jurisdictions prefer simple forms. While each state may vary slightly on its format, forms will generally require common information regarding identification of the parties, reasons for guardianship and residence of the parties.
Provide information in the caption. A caption to identify the parties and the case number remains a requirement in any legal document filed with the clerk of court. This assists the court with ensuring all documents are filed correctly. The caption must state the courthouse, county and state where the filing is taking place. Beneath the court identification, the caption must clearly identify the full legal names of those involved in the proceeding. Depending on the jurisdiction, the caption may identify the proposed guardian "v." the proposed ward (person needing care). Other jurisdictions may just require a caption like "In the Matter of John Doe, an Incapacitated Person." Next to the party's identification, list the case number, if available. Without a case number, include "Case No." and leave a space for the clerk to fill in this information. Some jurisdictions will include the judge's name handling the case within the caption as well.
Identify all individuals material to the proceeding. The petition must list the full legal names, current addresses and relationships for the proposed ward, guardian, ward's spouse and children, ward's current guardian or conservator (if applicable), social workers involved in the case and any other party with an interest in the guardianship. This does not mean a financial interest. However, identify any person with a close relationship to the proposed ward who could offer insight into the proceeding, even if that person holds a contrary opinion.
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List a general accounting of the proposed ward's estate, including the assets, real and personal property of the proposed ward. The court will want to see the total sum value of the ward's estate at present, and will ask for a formal, specific accounting later. The accounting should include an approximation of the ward's real estate, personal property, investments, bank accounts, stocks and bonds.
Include information relating to the proposed ward's current guardianship or conservatorship arrangements. If another individual currently maintains guardianship of the ward, provide information regarding that relationship. Generally, the court will have an interest in the identity of that person, how long they have served as guardian and why the guardianship arrangement should change. If the ward has a conservator, the court will need information about that person's identity and relationship with the ward as well. If the ward has a personal attorney, identify this person as well. Most states grant a proposed ward the right to counsel even if he can't afford one.
Set forth the degree of incapacity. If the guardianship involves an alleged incapacitated adult, an official report from a licensed physician, psychologist or social worker detailing the ward's current condition should accompany the form. The guardianship form will probably not require an entire medical report, but general details as to the ward's condition. Some jurisdictions require a separate, independent examination by another doctor, but courts often accept the attached medical reports.
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.