Not simply reserved for minors, guardianship is key element in Elder and Estate Planning. Guardianship is designed to protect and promote the well being of those whose functional limitations prevent them from making their own decisions. Adult guardianship is a relationship between a Court appointed individual and the "incapacitated" individual (the "ward"). Incapacitation is defined as dementia, brain injury, stroke, or chronic mental illness. The "ward" must be "substantially" unable to provide for his or her physical, emotional, residential, and medical needs. The legal standard is whether a person is able to make an "informed decision". A guardian is given the right to make decisions in the best interest on behalf of the disabled ward. Because guardianship involves questions of deprivation of personal liberty the law approves guardianships only when other less restrictive alternatives have proven ineffective. A guardian’s authority is limited to only those areas where there is evidence to indicate that a person is legally incapacitated. Areas where a ward may make informed decisions may not fall under the purview of the guardian. A guardian’s responsibility may extend to both person and estate. Every guardianship is viewed as unique. Guardianships can be requested by anyone interested in the ward’s well being.

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