Guardianship 101: How Can I Get a Guardian Appointed?
Posted Wednesday, August 20, 2014 by Ada K. Wong
A guardian is a person appointed by the court to manage an incapacitated person’s affairs. Guardians are usually appointed by superior court judges or court commissioners. A family member can request to be appointed as a guardian or ask the court to appoint a professional guardian. A professional guardian is not a member of the incapacitated person’s family and charges a fee for carrying out the duties. Once you have decided whether you want to request to be appointed a guardian or have the court appoint a professional guardian for you, the next step is to start the petition process. Any interested party may file a petition, which asks the court to determine that the person is indeed incapacitated and for a guardian to be appointed.
After filing the petition, notice must be given the allegedly incapacitated person. Sometimes notice is also required to be given to other parties, such as the allegedly incapacitated person’s spouse, family members residing with the person, etc. After notice is given, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to conduct an investigation and report for the court. A hearing will then be held for the court to consider all the evidence and testimony.
So how long does this usually take? Although temporary guardianship can be obtained fairly fast, for a guardian to be appointed without an emergency situation will take about 60 days. Sometimes the court may find that a full guardianship is not necessary and order only a limited guardianship. After a guardian is appointed, the guardian is required to file an oath. Within 3 months of the appointment, the guardian must also file a petition and order for approval of budget. Guardians are also required to file period reports on the status of the incapacitated person and administration of the guardianship. The court’s order will specify the period for the report and accounting to be filed, which will be 12, 24 or 36 months.
Guardianships are generally perpetual as long as the person remains legally incapacitated and the guardian is competent and follows all reporting procedures. The guardianship can only be terminated by an order of the court that initially established the guardianship.
If you think that someone you know is in need of a guardian or would like to explore a less restrictive alternative, feel free to call Ada Ko Wong at (206) 805-1493 or email her at AWong@PivotalLawGroup.com.