Guardianship of Minors and Adults
Guardianship of persons over 18 are used to protect someone who, because of physical incapacity, mental deterioration, mental illness, or developmental disability, lacks sufficient understanding or ability to make or communicate responsible decisions regarding his or her care and is unable to manage his or her estate (financial affairs). It may be limited in scope and may involve a guardian of the person, the estate, or both. While still able to make decisions, a person may use a Will or Powers of Attorney to state a preference for a named person to become his or her guardian if the need arises.
Guardianship of a Minor
Guardianship of a person under 18 is used to obtain legal custody of and make personal decisions for a minor, including obtaining necessary medical and dental care, and enrolling the child in school, etc. It is oftentimes used when parents are unable to properly care for and meet the needs of their child. Parents may consent to a person being the guardian, but if the parents object, the court decides. Guardianship of a minor's estate is created when a minor is injured and receives a settlement from an insurance company, or receives large sums of money from other sources. The guardian (generally a parent) must protect the child's money until age 18, and must also provide an accounting to the court.
Short-Term Guardianship of Minors
Parents choose and authorize a person or persons to have temporary custody (short-term guardianship) of their child for a set period (up to a year) and to obtain necessary medical and dental care. It may be used when parents are on vacation but the child stays with a relative or friend, or when a child lives with someone other than the parent and changes schools. Without this document, a temporary caretaker would have great difficulty obtaining dental and medical care for a child because of the health care laws, and they would also lack the authority to make decisions on the child's behalf. There is no court involvement, it is revocable at any time, and it does not affect the parents' legal custody status or parental rights.