Future Care Planning
What is guardianship? Guardianship is a legal process consisting of a court-appointed relationship between a competent adult and a person over the age of eighteen whose dis-ability renders him/her unable to make an informed decision or at risk of doing harm to self or others due to an inability to manage his/her own affairs. The incapacitating disability may be caused by mental illness, developmental disability, aging or other factors. A guardian is defined as a person who has been entrusted by the Surrogate Court with the care of another person, for the person's property, or for the care of both person and property.
Who can be a guardian? A guardian can be a friend, family member, neighbor, or a professional who has been trained to carry out guardianship functions. Corporate guardianship is also an option for those who have no one to serve as guardian. Corporate guardians can be non-profit or public organizations, banks, or other officials who have been deemed able to function as guardians. It is generally preferred that the guardian reside in the same state as the ward; however, direct or adopted close relatives (e.g. adult children, spouses, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles) are eligible to become guardians, regardless of residence. When deciding on a guardian, it is also advisable to think of who could be a stand-by or alternate guardian, in case something should render the proposed primary guardian unable to carry out the guardianship duties.