A guardianship is a legal relationship created when a person or institution named in a will or assigned by the court to take care of minor children or incompetent adults. Sometimes called a conservator ship. To become a guardian of a child either the party intending to be the guardian or another family member, a close friend or a local official responsible for a minor’s welfare will petition the court to appoint the guardian. The guardianship of a minor remains under court supervision until the child reaches majority at 18. The judge does not have to honor the request when someone is named in a will as guardian of one’s child in case of the death of the parent, it is construed as a preference, but is usually honored. The term “guardian” may also refer to someone who is appointed to care for and/or handle the affairs of a person who is incompetent or incapable of administering his/her affairs. Guardians must not benefit at the expense of those they care for (wards), and in many cases are required to make accounting to the court on a periodic basis. In some courts, a guardian may be reimbursed for attorney fees related to the guardianship. Court rules regarding accounting of expenses and requirements of guardians vary and local court rules should be consulted.
In some states, if the child is a certain age or older, the court must appoint the person nominated by the child unless the court finds the nomination contrary to the child’s best interest. The court may not appoint a person against whom the child has filed a written objection. In adult guardianship, the judge is often required to make a reasonable effort to consider the preference of the person with a disability in selecting the guardian. The judge typically does not have to follow the person’s wishes, but must give due consideration to the preference of the person with a disability. Laws vary by jurisdiction, so local laws should be consulted for specific requirements in your area.
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