A Guide to Adult Guardianship

A guardian is an individual appointed by the court to make decisions on behalf of another adult, one who is unable to make decisions on their own. Basically, the guardian assumes the role of a parent caring for a child, but where adult guardianship is concerned both individuals are adults.

In this guide to adult guardianship, we’ll look at this subject in-depth and help you decide if adult guardianship is right for you and your situation.

Full Guardianship vs Limited Guardianship

There are two types of guardianship: Full and Limited. Where Full Guardianship is concerned, the guardian assumes complete responsibility for the individual’s life, and can:

  • Choose where the individual lives, eats, and even who they have relationships with
  • Controls the individual’s money
  • Take away the rights that an individual has to make basic choices about their life

A Limited Guardianship, on the other hand, provides the guardian with specific powers relating to aspects of the individual’s life. For instance, they may assume control of their finances when the individual is unable to deal with bills, debts, and other obligations. Alternatively, they can help with medical decisions and general health care.

What Are the Alternatives to Adult Guardianship?

If an individual suffers from an accident or illness and is no longer able to look after themselves, guardianship should be considered. That way, the individual is not let loose upon the world and asked to deal with all obligations and responsibilities themselves. They can get help with a host of basic daily living activities and don’t need to stress over tasks such as paying bills.

However, it’s not always the best option. Guardianship, and Full Guardianship in particular, should only be considered when all alternative options have been exhausted. These options include:

  • Homemaking Services: When nutrition is the main concern, services such as Meals on Wheels could be the answer. Alternatively, there are private homemaker services that can help with meals, laundry, and even grocery shopping.
  • Medical Alerts and Home Care: If you’re worried about an individual’s ability to care for themselves and meet basic meal preparation and hygiene needs, you can get assistance from home care services. Medical alert systems can help as well, with the individual pressing a button after a fall and connecting to family, friends, or emergency services.
  • Power of Attorney: A POA is a legal document that assigns control of a person’s life to another individual, known as an “agent.” POAs can be limited or general, durable or non-durable, and they range considerably in scope.
    • For instance, an individual may be worried about their declining health and agree to let a loved one make medical and financial decisions for them. The problem with a POA is that the individual needs to be of sound mind to sign it.

When Should You Consider Adult Guardianship?

If an illness, injury, or disability renders someone unable to make decisions for themselves and all other options have been considered, guardianship might be the best solution.

You may want to consider adult guardianship if:

  • The individual has experienced a stroke and lost most of their basic cognitive functions
  • They have suffered from a serious brain injury
  • They have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia
  • They have been in an accident and are in a coma
  • They are mentally challenged and unable to make sensible choices