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Acting as the guardian for an adult

When we say guardian, most people probably think of the relationship between minor children and the person tasked with caring for them if something happens to one or both parents. While that is one type of guardianship, you can also become the guardian of an adult person if that person is deemed incompetent or incapacitated.

To legally become the guardian of an adult, you have to get the court to declare that the person is incompetent and appoint you the guardian. This usually means that the person is unable to take care of him or herself and make his or her own financial or health decisions due to injury, ailment or mental issues. As a court-appointed guardian, you are legally tasked with making decisions and handling tasks with the best interests of the other person in mind.

The person who requires a guardian is called a ward. As the guardian, you might make numerous decisions on behalf of the ward, including deciding where the ward will live and what type of care or services the ward might need. Because the ward might not be able to provide his or her own consent to services, you are legally allowed to consent for services and sign relevant documents.

Guardians might also handle financial and legal matters for wards. That includes accepting payments on behalf of the ward and ensuring bills and other obligations are met. You could also be called upon to make decisions about managing money, purchasing insurance or buying or selling property on behalf of the ward.

Becoming a guardian is not a simple task and should never be done lightly. Working with an estate lawyer to understand your obligations and protect both yourself and your ward can be a good idea.

Source: AgingCare.com, "How to Get Guardianship of an Elderly Parent," accessed Oct. 28, 2016

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