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What is a Guardianship and When Do You Need One?

When a family member or loved one is considered to be mentally incapacitated, it raises concerns regarding who will be responsible for making decisions on this person's behalf. In these situations, the court may appoint a legal guardian to assume that role. Similarly, a guardian can be appointed for a minor child. Guardianships fall under the realm of family law and can be difficult to understand and establish.

Guardianships involve special caretakers called guardians that are designated by the court. Guardianships can be created for a senior adult, an individual who is a minor, or for an adult who is mentally incapacitated. Full guardianships give the guardian broad authority in caring for the adult and their property. Full guardians make financial decisions, including those concerning taxes, investments, and bills. Limited guardianships give the guardian the authority to make only certain decisions concerning the care of the adult and their property.

Different types of guardianships

A guardianship for a minor is different from a guardianship for a senior adult or an adult who is mentally incapacitated. When the guardianship is for a minor child, a legal relationship is then created between the child and the adult guardian when the guardian is not the parent of the child. Establishing the guardianship does not affect the legal relationship between the child and the child's biological parents.

Guardianships may be appointed for varying periods of time. A short-term guardian may be appointed in the case of an emergency, when the individual is expected resume the ability to care for themselves. That process is fairly straightforward. The process for appointing a permanent or long-term guardianship is more involved, and takes a greater period of time to establish.

Facing the reality that a loved one can no longer care for themselves because of mental incapacity or another reason can be quite upsetting. Realizing that a minor child does not have appropriate care is worrisome, to say the least. These situations are emotionally taxing and put significant stress on other family members and loved ones. A guardianship can effectively address these concerns and establish proper care. Experienced estate planning lawyers at Stockton & Stern, LLC in Overland Park work with Kansas and Missouri families to create guardianships for adults and minors, working with you every step of the way. Contact a member of our team to discuss your situation at 913-856-2828 or online. For your convenience, we offer evening appointments upon request.