Purpose of a Guardianship

A guardianship is a legal proceeding in which a person, who is appointed as guardian of another person, exercises the legal rights of a person who is incapacitated or not of legal age. This guardianship gives the person appointed legal power over the persons in their care. It does have some similarities to a power of attorney, but there are several key differences that make one distinct from the other.

Guardianship of Minors

Generally speaking, a minor’s biological parents are considered to be their natural guardians. If the parents are unfit, incapacitated, incarcerated, or other reason preventing them from performing parental duties, then the court appoints a legal guardian to take care of the minor. The parents can file a legal declaration listing a preferred person to be the minor’s guardian or it can be listed in the parent’s will if the child is listed as a beneficiary.

Guardianship of Incapacitated Adults

If an adult is found by the court to be incapacitated and incapable of taking care of themselves, then the court will appoint a guardian to care for him or her until that person is deemed capable. Any adult without a criminal record can be appointed to be a guardian, though close friends and family are most often given guardianship. The guardian must use their ward’s assets to take care of their ward and serves as the power-of-attorney on record.

Power of Attorney

Though the two are similar, guardianship and power of attorney have several key differences. Unlike guardianship, the power of attorney is appointed usually by the ward, rather than the court. The ward draws up an agreement for specific duties the appointed attorney has the legal authority to do. The power of attorney is not required to be set up by an attorney, but a guardianship often requires a guardianship attorney to set up.

Overview of Guardianship

Legal guardianship is a necessary part of the legal system to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves, set in place by the courts. Guardianship has a system of accountability set in place to ensure that the guardian does not take advantage of their position. As opposed to the power of attorney, the courts look over the guardian and their expenses, something that the appointed attorney is not required to do.