What is the Guardianship Process?

What is the Guardianship Process?

A Guardianship proceeding is initiated when an application for appointment of a Guardian is filed in the probate court in the county where the “ward” (person needing guardianship) resides. The application will indicate the type of Guardianship sought – over the person (care), over the estate (financial), or both.  The ward is provided notice and given an opportunity to attend hearings before the probate court. The ward has the right to be represented by legal counsel. If the ward is unable to afford legal counsel the court will appoint an attorney at no cost.  

Application & Assessment

An application for Guardianship must be accompanied by an assessment completed by a medical professional or psychologist indicating that the ward has diminished capacity.  If the ward contests the original assessment at the initial hearing, a second assessment will likely be ordered. The probate court will then consider the circumstances giving rise to the application and whether less intrusive alternatives to guardianship are available to address the concerns raised in the application. Ultimately, the court may schedule a trial where the applicant and the ward will be allowed to call witnesses and introduce evidence. Following the trial, the probate court will decide whether to grant the application in whole, in part (a Limited Guardianship) or deny the application altogether.

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