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Guardianship is a court proceeding. When an adult is unable to make personal decisions, such as medical decisions, or to handle his or her own property, a court can appoint a guardian.
What happens when someone becomes disabled and can no longer manage his or her financial affairs? Perhaps that person has dementia, suffered a stroke, or has some other ailment or injury that renders that person unable to act. That person’s financial affairs must be put in order, and kept in order, so that the financial needs of that person can be taken care as long as possible. Often, the answer to that question is to initiate a guardianship proceeding on behalf of that disabled adult.
Establishing a guardianship is a formal, public, legal process. It is initiated when someone files a petition with a Maryland circuit court to be appointed guardian for an “alleged disabled person.” It should be noted that a disabled person is always an “alleged” disabled person until that person is determined by a court to be disabled, based on competent medical evidence, affidavits or opinions. Prior to that determination, a person is presumed to have capacity. If the court determines that a person is disabled, the court will appoint someone, most often an interested person, to serve as guardian, and issue an order setting out the terms and conditions of the appointment.
Interested persons play a pivotal role in guardianship proceedings. For example, only an interested person can petition for guardianship.
Whether or not the guardianship is contested, a hearing on the guardianship petition will be conducted in the circuit court for the county in which the petition was filed. The two main issues in a guardianship hearing are (1) whether a guardian is needed (i.e., is the alleged disabled person really disabled?) and (2) who is the most appropriate guardian for the disabled person. The Petitioner has the burden to prove both of these issues.
Guardianship is a sub-set of custody. Often, a third party just needs to obtain guardianship for health and/or educational purposes. This is less intrusive than custody.
A Standby Guardian is a person appointed by a parent or parents of a child to take care of the child in the event that the parent (s) is mentally or physically incapable of doing so.
Is this legal advice?
This site offers legal information, not legal advice. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options. However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney. The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site. In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2013.”