Probate Court is the proper forum to open a guardianship estate for a disabled adult. When an adult is no longer capable of handling his or her finances or details surrounding daily care, a guardianship may be required. If the person did not execute powers of attorney for property or health care, then a guardianship is proper because that individual did not appoint somebody else to act on their behalf in the event of disability.
There are many steps required to obtain a guardianship. The court tends to move more slowly and cautiously in “alleged disabled adult” cases than decedent’s estates or minor’s estates because to declare a person disabled completely removes that individual’s rights to make decisions for himself or herself. If the alleged disabled person is in imminent threat or harm due to the inability to care for himself or herself, then the individual who wants to be Guardian can obtain a Temporary Guardianship that allows the individual to care for the alleged disabled adult until the court can hold the hearing and make a ruling.
The first step involves the person wanting to be Guardian filing a petition. After a petition is filed, the county sheriff must serve a summons on the alleged disabled person, and there is an initial hearing held shortly thereafter. At the first hearing, if the petitioner claims that the alleged disabled adult cannot come to court, the judge typically appoints a Guardian ad Litem (GAL). The GAL is usually an attorney whose purpose is to be the eyes and ears of the Court. The GAL will meet with the petitioner and the alleged disabled adult and then file a report with the Court. The judge then will, upon the recommendation of the GAL, either appoint the petitioner to be Guardian, or deny the petition. Once a guardian is appointed, the guardian must file an inventory with the Court and annual reports.
We at Chamberlin Little P.C. have worked as counsel for Guardians and as court-appointed GAL. We can help you complete your annual filings so that you can care for your loved one.