Most families will encounter a situation which calls for guardianship proceedings at some point. These proceedings are called for when an individual, either a minor or an adult, is determined to be incapable of making his/her own decisions — legal, financial or otherwise. A guardian must be appointed by the court, whereas someone with power of attorney may be selected by the individual whose decisions are being overseen. In either instance, decisions may concern financial or personal matters that the individual is unable to make on their own.
Guardianship exists to protect the ward, whomever the guardian has been appointed for, and his/her assets. A child may be appointed a legal guardian if his/her parents die or are deemed unfit by the courts. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but typically results from the death of the child’s parents or when a lump sum of money is being awarded to the child. Where adults are concerned, guardianship appointment is often a result of aging or disability.
Guardianship is only utilized by the court in situations where a less-restrictive option is not possible. Such alternatives include:
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Healthcare Surrogate or Proxy
If you have been declared the legal guardian of another individual or need to file a petition to determine incapacity, an attorney’s experience is essential for navigating the probate process. Whether you are tasked with distributing assets of an elderly relative or caring for the child of a deceased relative, the attorneys at Pimentel & Castillo can advise you of the legalities involved.