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A legal guardian is someone who is appointed by a court to take care of a minor child or an incompetent adult. The person that a guardian looks after is referred to as their ward. In most cases, a guardian is appointed to a child after that child’s parents pass away or are otherwise unable or unwilling to care for the child. Parents are the legal guardians of their children until the child reaches eighteen, the parents pass away, or the parent’s gives up their right to guardianship.

What is the Role of a Legal Guardian?

A guardian is responsible for the welfare of the child which they care for. They have legal rights when it comes to decisions regarding the child’s health, schooling, insurance, and more until the child turns eighteen, much like a natural parent.

If the parents of a child pass away, it is generally stipulated in their will the person they would like the legal guardian of their child to be, but this request is not legal until it is approved by a judge. In most cases, a judge will approve the wishes of the parents, but if the requested person declines guardianship or other unforeseen circumstances arise, the judge may deny the parent’s request. Legal guardianship of a child can be petitioned for by the person wishing to become the guardian, a close friend or family member of the child, or a legal official responsible for the wellbeing of the child.

Conservatorships and Adult Guardianships

A person can be named the legal guardian of an adult who is deemed by a court to be incompetent and therefore unable to care for themselves or their property. This type of guardianship is typically referred to as a conservatorship. For a person to be legally declared incompetent, one or two doctors (depending upon the state) must first examine the person. If the doctors come to the conclusion that the person is unable to care for themselves or are unable to make sound decisions, the doctors will submit a written declaration of the person’s incompetence to the court. A judge will then review the doctor’s analysis and legally declare the person incompetent. A legal guardian to an incompetent adult has rights regarding that person’s care, finances, legal decisions, and property. If you have questions about guardianship or would like help becoming the legal guardian of a child or an adult, contact Englett and Associates today by calling (855) 348-3613.

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