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Easy Guide to Legal Guardianship

Easy Guide to Legal Guardianship

A legal guardian is an individual who legally assumes the responsibility of providing another person with care and support. A legal guardian may be appointed for a child or for an adult who is deemed incompetent.

Reasons for Legal Guardian Appointment
There are many situations that would warrant the authorization of a legal guardian. If the parents of a child are no longer able to provide the child with adequate care and support, then a legal guardian may be appointed to look after the child. 
There are numerous reasons why a parent would no longer be able to provide their child with care. If the child is living in an unhealthy or unstable environment, then a judge may decide that it is in the child’s best interest to be placed in the care of another individual. If the home in which the child is situated is dangerous or detrimental to the child, then the child may be removed from the environment and placed into a new one.
If the parents of the child are unfit to care for the child for any reason, then a legal guardian may be appointed to assume the responsibility of providing care to the child. A legal guardian may be appointed if the mother and father of the minor are temporarily unavailable to look after the child. There are many specific situations that require the authorization of a legal guardian for a child. 
A legal guardian may also be appointed for an adult. This is common if an adult is legally or mentally disabled and is unable to care for themselves.

Responsibilities of a Legal Guardian
Becoming a legal guardian is an extremely large undertaking, and an individual who is granted legal guardianship rights to a child is charged with many new responsibilities. The child’s legal guardian will acquire all of the responsibilities that a parent would possess. A legal guardian must ensure that the child is provided with all of the important necessities. Basic necessities must be accessible to the child at all times. 
The legal guardian of a minor must assure that the child is fulfilling all of their responsibilities, such as attending school. A legal guardian must also maintain the child’s health and well-being. It is essential that a legal guardian provide a child with an environment in which they can prosper both mentally and physically. An individual who chooses to become a minor’s legal guardian should be loving and supportive of the child. 
In the case of an incapacitated adult, a legal guardian has the responsibility of looking after the care and the estate of their ward. The guardian needs to ensure that their ward is being cared for properly. Many times a guardian will be responsible for protecting their ward’s finances. If a legal guardian does not uphold any of their responsibilities or if the guardian takes advantage of their rights and power, then the court has the authority to terminate the guardianship. 
Process of Becoming a Legal Guardian 
The process of becoming the guardian of a child or of an incapacitated adult requires precise and detailed legal proceedings. The process begins when the person petitions a court for guardianship. 
Other Concerns

An individual who is considering petitioning a court for guardianship rights to a minor may experience many concerns and a great deal of apprehension. Assuming the care and support of a child is a very large responsibility. Many individuals who are considering undertaking the legal guardianship of a child become worried about the financial burden that a guardianship will entail. The guardian will have the responsibility of providing the child with all of the necessities, such as food and clothing, as well as any financial assistance that the child may need. 
The guardian will also be required to supply the child with a warm and comfortable place to live. The petitioner may not be financially capable of paying for these expenses, and oftentimes a legal guardian receives no financial assistance. 

There are numerous situations that call for the authorization of a legal guardian. Therefore, there are many different types of legal guardians. There are legal guardians who are appointed for only a specific period of time. This may occur if the parents of a child are in an emergency situation.

Disabled Individuals
Many times, a mentally or physically disabled individual will need to have guardianship established. A legal guardian is also often appointed for elderly individuals who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer disease. An incapacitated adult may not have the ability to adequately care for himself/herself, and therefore, a guardian will be appointed to ensure that they are receiving the proper care. The legal guardian will be responsible for making decisions regarding the individual’s healthcare and medical treatment, as well as any decisions that may occur in day-to-day life.
An incapacitated adult may not be able to manage their monetary funds and may be unable to make effective decisions regarding their finances. In situations such as these, the judge will appoint a guardian to have authorization and control over the individual’s assets and estates.
In order for an individual to be granted the responsibility of legal guardianship of an incapacitated adult, the petitioner must first secure a guardianship bond in order to ensure that they will not take advantage of their rights and authority. 

Conservatorship vs. Guardianship
When a guardianship is established, the individual who was granted guardianship rights to an individual will usually have control and authority in decisions regarding their ward’s body, care, and day-to-day activities. In most cases, the guardian will also be responsible for maintaining and protecting their wards’ assets and estate. When the term guardianship is used, it is most commonly describing a child who has been placed under the care of a legal guardian. 
On the other hand, the term conservatorship is generally used to refer to a person gaining the responsibility of managing another individual’s estate. A conservatorship is usually set up in order to protect the assets and the estate of an incapacitated adult. An adult who suffers from a disability or an illness may not be able to make effective decisions regarding his/her finances. Therefore, a conservator is appointed to administer the individual’s finances. Unlike in a guardianship, a conservator receives no rights or authority in decisions regarding the ward’s body or care. 

National Guardianship Association
The National Guardianship Association is an organization that was created in order to educate and train individuals on how to be excellent legal guardians. Individuals who decide to join the organization receive excellent benefits, including discounts on publications and discounted access to the annual conference that the organization hosts.
The National Guardianship Association produces a variety of publications that outline the proper ethics and conduct of a legal guardian. They also provide a calendar of events which includes numerous conferences around the United States throughout the year. If a member decides to attend one of the conferences, then they will have the opportunity to discuss guardianship with professional guardians, as well as ask any questions that they may have.
The organization also provides review classes for the national certification exam. The National Guardianship Association provides its members with a wide array of resources that will assist them in becoming the best guardian that they can be.