Guardians can be appointed for any legally impaired person. Often such persons are minors, under the age 18, but they can also be elderly or otherwise impaired individuals in need of someone who can make legal decisions and consents in their behalf.
Generally, parents are the natural Guardian of their children and there is no legal reason to formalize further. However, when parents both die or are incapable of parenting their minor children, other persons must be found and appointed as legal Guardian for the minor child or children. If there is a Last Will and Testament, then there is a good chance that the deceased parent will have nominated the person he or she believed to be the most qualified person to perform this service and the Court will generally appoint the decedent’s choice. When this is not the case, often a relative or good friend will come forward and volunteer for this job.
When minors are the subject of the Guardianship, there are often responsibilities of raising the child in the home that come along with the Guardianship. However, this is not always the case, particularly when the Ward is legally impaired and lives in an institution. The Guardian is the person that has the legal power to make the decisions that are in the best interest of the Ward.
Think of Guardianship as the non-financial part of taking care of someone. Oftentimes, the Guardian and the Conservator is the same person and is simultaneously appointed in the same proceeding. However, there are instances when a person may need a conservator and not a Guardian or vice versa.
Although a Guardian has no reporting obligations for the finances of the Ward, a Guardian must file annual reports showing the frequency and quality of interaction with the Ward and others on his or her behalf. One cannot make responsible decisions for a Ward without knowing and visiting the Ward frequently. If the Ward is in a nursing home, the Guardian should try to monitor the quality of care and see that the needs of the Ward are being met.
A Guardian can qualify for payment of his or her fees if there is financial ability of the Guardianship estate to pay the same.