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Do You Need a Guardianship?

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2022 | Firm News

A legal guardian is a person appointed by the court to undertake responsibility for someone who is unable to take responsibility for himself. The person over whom a guardianship is sought is known as a ward. A ward may be either a child under the age of 18, an adult suffering from a disability or a senior citizen. A guardian may only be appointed by court order.

Some of the general powers and duties of a guardian include:

  • providing for the ward’s care
  • treatment
  • education
  • support and maintenance

A ward needs a guardian if he cannot take care of himself in any of these areas and is not competent to make decisions. In that case, a guardian is needed to watch over and take care of the ward.

A guardian has the legal power to decide where the ward lives and the level of care required. A guardian of an adult ward is not responsible for the financial support of the ward. A guardianship differs from a conservatorship in that a conservator only has the power to make financial decisions on behalf of the ward.

Missouri law has a preference for appointing blood relatives as guardians whenever possible.

The courts will first consider:

  • Any person designated by the incapacitated person
  • A person previously named as an attorney-in-fact when the ward was not incapacitated
  • A relative
  • Parents are the guardians of minors unless the parents are deceased, refuse to serve, or are judged unfit.

A parent may designate a guardian in a will, but a hearing is still necessary to determine if the designated person is capable of performing the duties of a guardian because wills only take effect upon the death of their makers.

There are many safeguards in place to prevent the abuse of power in a guardianship position. These abuses, however, still occur. If a guardianship is necessary, it is important that the incapacitated person be represented by a family law attorney in order to ensure that the person’s interests are protected.