Temporary Guardianship Orders in Maryland 

Caregiver, carer hand holding elder hand. Helping a disabled adult concept.

Complex state statutes govern court appointment of guardians for disabled or incapacitated adults in the State of Maryland. In most situations, a proceeding for appointment of a guardian of the person or guardian of the property follows a specified court process that takes time to complete. However, in limited circumstances, state law authorizes the courts to create a temporary guardianship. Rockville guardianship lawyer Henry Nash assists clients with all types of adult guardianship proceedings.

Maryland Laws for Adult Guardianships

If an aging adult becomes disabled or incapacitated, an advance health care directive and a durable financial power of attorney in their estate plan may authorize named persons to handle the senior’s medical, personal, and financial affairs. In the absence of these documents, an interested person may petition the circuit court for appointment as guardian of the person or guardian of the property for the adult. A single petition may request both appointments when necessary.

A guardianship petition typically is filed with the circuit court in the county where the aging adult resides or has been admitted for treatment. For adults who are not residents of Maryland, a guardianship petition may be filed in the county where the person is physically present.

Extensive, complex Maryland statutes and court rules govern adult guardianship proceedings in the state. The laws provide that a court may only appoint a guardian after finding that an adult is incapacitated (as defined by law) and that “No less restrictive form of intervention is available that is consistent with the person’s welfare and safety.”

Maryland has a statutory order of priority of persons entitled to appointment, as follows:

  • A person nominated by the disabled person while of sound mind
  • The disabled person's next of kin: spouse, adult children, siblings

However, for appointment of a guardian of the person and a guardian of the property, the statutory order of priority is only advisory. The overriding consideration for the court is the “best interest of the disabled person.” For good cause, the court may appoint an individual of lower priority or no priority, such as a close friend or unmarried partner.

In most cases, filing a petition with the court follows an orderly process that takes time to complete. In limited circumstances, Maryland law authorizes a court to appoint a temporary guardianship in an expedited time period.

Petition for Temporary Guardianship of the Person

A petition for temporary guardianship of the person can be submitted at the same time as a petition for appointment as guardian of the person. Since the process for appointing a guardian can take a number of months, the court may appoint a temporary guardian of the person for specific purposes and for a limited period of time. A temporary guardianship of the person may be necessary so that someone can make decisions for the disabled person while the petition for appointment is pending.

In addition, under Maryland Court Rule 10-103(i), a temporary guardian also includes a person appointed under Rule 10-210 in a proceeding for emergency protective services, pursuant to Section 13-709 of the Maryland Estates and Trusts Code. Rule 10-213 also includes provisions relating to court appointment of a temporary guardian for this purpose.

Petition for Temporary Guardianship of the Property

The definition of temporary guardian in Maryland Court Rule 10-103(i) includes a person authorized to preserve the property of an alleged disabled person pending a hearing on a petition for guardianship, under the authority granted to the court in Section 13-203(a)(1) of the Estates and Trust Code. The court may appoint a responsible person as temporary guardian of the property, to use the disabled person’s property for the disabled person’s benefit, pending the hearing on the merits of a petition for appointment of a guardian of the property.

The temporary guardian of the property has only the authority the court allows. Generally, that includes the authority to expend the disabled person’s funds to pay for health care, housing, and other necessities. In cases of suspected elder abuse, the guardian of the property may also be authorized to stop ongoing theft or prevent an imminent threat of theft or further theft of the disabled person’s property. The temporary guardian would typically also have the authority, and might be explicitly directed by the court, to investigate possible theft (for example, by obtaining and examining the disabled person’s financial records) and report the findings to the Court.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, it is common for the court to appoint a lawyer to serve as the temporary guardian of the property.

Guardianship Petitions in Maryland

Guardianship proceedings, whether for appointment of a temporary or permanent guardian, are very serious matters for the court and for anyone petitioning for appointment. Being the guardian for an incapacitated or disabled adult is a substantial legal responsibility.

An appointed guardian assumes specific significant duties under state law. If you consider requesting appointment in Maryland as a guardian of the person, guardian of the property, or as a temporary guardian, you should discuss your situation with a knowledgeable guardianship lawyer before you take any steps toward filing a court petition.

As a Maryland guardian, you report directly to the court that appoints you. If you fail to perform the duties assigned by the judge in the guardianship order, the court can take action to modify or terminate your guardianship responsibilities. When you have an attorney assist you with the process, your lawyer makes certain that you understand your duties before you petition the court, and that you know how to comply with the mandates of the court’s order if the court appoints you as guardian for a disabled or incapacitated adult.

Talk With a Trusted Rockville, Maryland Guardianship Attorney

Rockville attorney Henry Nash has extensive experience helping family members and loved ones address all the complex legal issues facing seniors. At The Law Office of Henry Nash, our services include comprehensive elder law matters, including permanent and temporary guardianship proceedings.

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 guardianship or other elder law matters, we welcome you to call us at (301) 998-6111 or contact us through our online form.

Categories: Guardianship