Who is a guardian?
- It is an adult chosen either by independent will or a court who will make decisions on behalf of someone who is unable to make decisions for themselves. For instance, this could be a child or an adult who is incapable of making sound decisions or has some sort of disability.
- There are also situations such as when a minor has a large amount of money. You would have seen situations like this in the past with child actors such as Macaulay Culkin.
Any child protection agency, family friend or the relative who is an adult can be appointed by the court as a guardian.
What does a guardian do?
A guardian is appointed by the court to make decisions on behalf of the person named. Examples of what a Guardian can do includes:
- Making sure that bank accounts and finances are properly managed.
- Making arrangements for the education of the dependent person.
- Having the capacity to give consent for the dependent person’s medical care or treatment
- Providing essential items such as food, clothes, household items, and other personal effects to the dependent person. This could also include bigger purchases such as a car or property.
When are guardians appointed by the court?
When a person is incapable of looking after themselves, be it through a physical or mental disability, addiction to drugs or alcohol, or indeed subject to a disease, a court may appoint a guardian. Obviously, this is a position where the Guardian has a tremendous amount of power over the named person. It is important that the Guardian has the dependent person’s best interests at heart.
How is a guardian selected?
Usually, a court appoints a guardian who has close links with the dependent person. This could include:
- A parent or another relative
- An employee of the state or another private person who is familiar with the dependent person and the problems that they are facing.
The person who is chosen by the court must be willing to act in the best interests of the named person. A court will consider a potential guardian by looking at the following issues:
- The character of the person
- Their personal history
- Whether they have the physical capacity to act as a guardian
They will also look at any other factors which they deem relevant.
Note – the statutes relating to guardianship in each state has specific responsibilities, duties and powers of guardianship.
What happens if a guardian is unable to fulfill their duties?
If the court deems that a Guardian has not been able to provide adequate care for the named person, or indeed has neglected their duties, they have the power to remove that person as guardian.
Examples of neglect would include the Guardian using the named person money for their benefit. This is something that we see in the news on a regular basis whereby a child actor says that their parents or parents had spent their money before they became an adult and were able to access the fruits of their labour as a child actor.
Guardianship can also be removed when they do not obey court orders. When the guardian is removed from authority, either a temporary guardian will put in their place for a period, or a new guardian will be appointed.
As you can see, being a guardian is a position with a tremendous amount of responsibilities. It’s essential that the person chosen to be the guardian is an upright member of society.