There are many reasons an individual might be required to take on the legal guardianship of another. Children who have lost both parents, or whose mother or father can no longer properly care for them, are often placed under guardianship. Those who are disabled or mentally ill may also be put in such care. If you are about to become a legal guardian for another, there are a few facts you may want to learn before undertaking such a responsibility.
1. Only a Court May Appoint Guardianship
While you may care for a child or disabled adult in your home, only a court can name you a legal guardian on paper. Until you go before a judge and apply for this circumstance, you likely will not have any legal claim to the individual under your care. If you are seeking guardianship of a child whose parents are still living, one or both must name you guardian before the process can be completed in a court of law.
2. Adults Can Be Put Under Guardianship
Children are not the only individuals who may be protected under a guardianship. Adults, such as the elderly or people with severe disabilities, can also be appointed a legal guardian. For example, if your mother has developed dementia and can no longer care for herself, you may petition the court to become her legal guardian and become responsible for her daily care, financial decisions, and medical treatment.
3. Military Parents Often Appoint Guardians
Military parents often live a nomadic life, as their job demands that they go where they are most needed. In some cases, parents are sent overseas for months or years depending on their work, so many appoint guardians for their children while they are away. Not only can this give the child stability and reassurance, but the parents can also rest easy knowing he or she is being cared for by someone they trust.
4. Parents May Retain Rights
While a parent may not be able to care for a child on a day-to-day basis or be present in his or her life, many courts grant parents full rights, even if the child is under guardianship care. For instance, if your sister is very ill and you are named guardian of her daughter, your sister will probably still have the right to be involved in major decisions regarding her child, including medical and financial matters.
Taking on the role of a legal guardian for any individual is a serious responsibility. Contact an estate attorney, like an estate attorney in Cherry Hill, NJ, today for more information about guardianship and how it can enrich the life of someone in need of care and guidance.
Thanks to Klenk Law for their insight into legal guardianship.