When is an adult considered "legally disabled"?
An adult is considered to be legally disabled if a court, after a jury trial, has ruled in
a disability hearing that the person cannot take care of his/her personal needs or manage his/her finances.
At the same time the court declares a person to be disabled, it appoints a guardian or a conservator to help with personal or financial needs in the areas the disabled person can’t manage alone.
In deciding this at the disability hearing, the court will determine if the person can handle their affairs, e.g., can they manage their money, their physical health and safety, etc. If the person needs help in some areas, but not others, the court may appoint a limited guardian or a conservator.
When is guardianship pursued?
A guardianship is typically sought when someone believes that an individual is not capable of managing his/her financial and/or personal affairs and an effective power of attorney was not signed while the person still had the mental capacity to do so.
What is involved in pursuing guardianship?
To pursue guardianship, among other steps, the following is needed:
What are a guardian’s duties?
A guardian should focus on the legally disabled adult’s well-being. The goal of guardianship is to protect the personal, civil, and human rights of the person with the disability
and to encourage them to make their own decisions and act on their own behalf. Depending upon the specific rights the court takes
away, the guardian’s duties may include:
Filing Annual Reports:
A guardian must report to the court every year (on the anniversary of their appointment date by the Judge) about how the ward is doing. The report includes information on where the ward is living, in what programs the ward is involved, and whether guardianship continues to be needed.
Filing Periodic Accountings:
What affect does guardianship have upon a person found to be legally disabled?
Many rights can be lost through guardianship, so it should not be undertaken lightly. A person who is adjudged wholly disabled to manage his/her personal affairs and finances resources loses their right to:
A person who is adjudged partially disabled retains all legal and civil rights except those which have been designated by the Court as legal disabilities or which have been specifically granted to the limited guardian or limited conservator.
What is a conservatorship?
A conservator is a type of guardian who manages finances only. The court may appoint a conservator alone or in combination with a guardian to handle a legally disabled person’s financial affairs.
What are the conservator's duties?
Matthew L. Darpel
Attorney at Law &
For over 30 years,
Matt has been providing counsel to seniors and
their families, focusing on:
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