Adult Guardianship

When an individual is too young (a minor), or no longer can make all the decisions necessary to manage property and personal affairs, someone else must make those decisions on his or her behalf. When the person is also too impaired to choose someone to make choices for them through a Durable Power of Attorney, or Health Care Power of Attorney, it is necessary to appoint a guardian. Because all adults are presumed to be mentally competent enough to make their own decisions, only a court can appoint another to make choices about such matters as living arrangements, health care, and property management once the individual has lost the capacity to do so. Guardianship is the device by which the judgment of a more capable person is substituted for the judgment of an impaired person. The substitute decision-maker is generally referred to as a guardian and the impaired person a ward. Powers of Attorney for financial matters and for health care can sometimes avoid the need of a guardianship.