Filing for an adult guardianship in Maryland is a difficult decision for many families. It is not uncommon for caring relatives to put off such a question until it is already painfully obvious that something has to be done.
A conversation with a Maryland guardianship lawyer can help with the decision-making process. If adult guardianship is the best choice, your attorney can often smooth the process of becoming the guardian of a loved one in need. But before getting to the question of how to become a legal guardian, it is important to understand what adult guardianship entails.
The question often comes up in connection with aging parents who have lost the ability to manage their personal or financial affairs because of stroke, dementia, other impairments, or in the unfortunate circumstance in which a loved one has suffered from elder abuse. In addition, it can arise with younger individuals who have suffered from a devastating accident, disabling addiction or, in the case of a disabled adult child, a long-term disability.
Adult guardianship is the formal process by which a court appoints someone to manage another’s personal care or property. The process affords significant protection to the allegedly disabled person:
Adult guardianship is generally seen as a last resort, best reserved for situations in which there is no other alternative that will adequately protect the interests of the person in need.
Conditions like age, illness or disability are not by themselves, an indication for legal guardianship. Maryland law focuses, instead, on the concept of “legal capacity.”
A guardianship proceeding requires two professional clinical certifications that an individual is unable to make financial or personal care decisions.
Older relatives may be perfectly capable of caring for themselves, but unable to manage financial decisions. Generally, a court may be willing to establish a guardianship of property where there is both an underlying medical condition and someone can be shown to be unable to balance a checkbook, pay household bills, or handle mail responsibly. On the other hand, a guardianship of property may not be necessary where a person has already executed a durable financial power of attorney granting someone else the ability to handle his or her financial affairs.
A court may be willing to establish a guardianship of the person when someone who is unable to make personal care decisions needs medical treatment that requires consent. As with financial decisions, the existence of a previously-executed advance directive or durable health care power of attorney may make a guardianship unnecessary.
Paradoxically, as we lead longer and healthier lives, the need for advance planning documents including powers of attorney and health care directives has become more important. Rockville, Maryland elder law attorney Henry Nash is happy to assist with advance health care directives, durable financial powers of attorney, adult guardianships and other legal concerns.
In Maryland, the process of filing for adult guardianship has several steps:
At The Law Office of Henry Nash, we work with clients in Rockville, throughout Montgomery County, and elsewhere in Maryland. We also assist out-of-state clients who have loved ones residing in the state. If you have any questions or concerns about any issues relating to any of our services, we welcome you to call us at (301) 998-6111 or contact us through our online form.