What You Need to Know about Legal Guardianship

Parents dread the idea that they might not be there for their children someday. Unfortunately, it is sometimes necessary for a child to be placed in the care of a legal guardian because the parents are deceased or otherwise unable to care for their child. Guardianship laws vary from place to place, so if you feel that it is in your best interest to set up a guardianship, it is best to find a local attorney who specializes in guardianship, probate, or estate planning law. These are a few of the basic principles of guardianship law.

What is legal guardianship?

Legal guardianship is a status that allows a person who is not the parent of a minor to care for and make decisions on behalf of the minor until legal adulthood is reached. The majority of countries and states have laws that make the parents of a minor the automatic legal guardians, or “natural guardians,” of the child, and allow the parents to appoint a desired guardian. Often grandparents or other close relatives will receive this status if the parents are unable to fulfil their duties.

A lesser known aspect of guardianship law is that it sometimes applies to elderly people as well. Often in cases of Alzheimer’s or other degenerative diseases that affect mental capability it is necessary to declare a legal guardian to act on behalf of an older person. Legal guardianship allows the appointed person to make decisions related to medical treatment. Developmentally disabled adults also often have guardians appointed, usually their parents, once the child reaches the age of majority.

What factors are involved?

There are several things to consider when determining whether to appoint a legal guardian. Usually, this involves the state determining that the person requiring a guardian is actually incapacitated after conducting a hearing and going over the evidence presented. Sometimes an already existing health care proxy or person with power of attorney will simply become the legal guardian. In other cases, such as those involving siblings who wish to become legal guardians of an elderly parent, disputes over legal guardianship can arise, and must be settled in court.

How would I set up legal guardianship?

Legal guardians are held to high standards since they are responsible for both the physical and financial well-being of their wards, so it is important to exercise great care in appointing one. Courts have the power to appoint a legal guardian for a person who is incapacitated, but parents may appoint the guardian of their choice to be responsible for their children in the event of their untimely deaths. If you are considering appointing a guardian, it is best to contact a Queens probate lawyer to help with the legal considerations involved.

To answer your questions about probate law, legal guardianship, and estate planning, contact the law firm of Richard Cary Spivack for a consultation today. With expert knowledge of local probate law, a Queens probate lawyer can help you to protect your loved ones.