Guardianship is a legal process. Since a guardianship can remove considerable rights from an individual, the person or entity filing for a guardianship must fully demonstrate that the individual is not capable of making sound decisions on their own. Additionally, alternatives to guardianship should be pursued before filing for a guardianship.
A petition for guardianship typically follows these steps:
1. A preliminary investigation is used to demonstrate a need for guardianship during the hearing.
2. To start the court proceedings, a petition, or official request for a guardian, must be prepared, signed, and filed by the person or entity that believes the individual needs a guardian. It is recommended that you consult with an attorney familiar with guardianship proceedings before filing a petition.
3. After the petition, a hearing date is set and summons to appear is sent to the individual in need of guardianship. This summons also serves as the official notice to the individual that someone has petitioned for their guardianship.
4. On the specified date and time, the hearing is held. At this point evidence is presented about the need for guardianship. Typically an attorney represents the individual at the hearing. After all evidence has been presented, the judge confirms or denies the petition for guardianship.
5. If the petition is confirmed, it is determined if the proposed guardian is eligible and able to serve in that capacity. If the proposed guardian is accepted, the responsibilities and limits of the guardian are defined to ensure that the best interests of the individual are met.The clerk will then file letters of guardianship that will allow the guardian to make decisions on the individual’s behalf. At this time, the guardian makes an oath to serve the ward and accepts the letter of guardianship.