Bezler Law Firm offers guidance with tricky issues that often come with guardianship law. Guardianship is a legal process whereby one individual is appointed by a probate court to have the authority and responsibility for the personal affairs of another person, whether an adult or a minor. Many people associate guardianships with children from disadvantaged homes, but guardianships are also often needed with the elderly who may need someone watching over their affairs as age takes its effects.
Four definitions important to guardianships in Missouri include:
Guardian: A person appointed by the court to have the control over the affairs of an incapacitated person. A Limited Guardian is a person whose powers as guardian are limited by the court to certain specified functions.
Incapacitated Person: A Person who is unable because of a physical or mental condition to retrieve and evaluate information or to communicate decisions to such an extent that they are unable to provide themselves with food, clothing, shelter, safety, or other care to such an extent that physical injury, illness or disease is likely to occur.
Partially Incapacitated Person: A person who lacks some, but not all of the abilities necessary to provide himself with food, clothing, shelter, and other essential care.
Ward: A minor or an incapacitated person for whom a guardian or limited guardian has been appointed.
Steps to take when seeking to obtain a legal guardianship:
- File a petition. It is usually a form document available in the probate or family court division.
- Gather evidence. You may need to collect affidavits (sworn statements) from teachers, doctors, or other professionals who can support your claim that you should be awarded a guardianship and that you are qualified to serve as a legal guardian.
- Post a bond. The court may require you to post a fiduciary bond to help cover any potential liability you may incur as a legal guardian. There is a particular form to fill out and you must show proof of bond signed by a bonding agency.
- Answer to the court. The court will either schedule a hearing in response to the petition you filed, or, if a child is in immediate danger, a guardian ad litem may be appointed in order to assess the situation. The guardian ad litem will assess your situation and report to the court their findings with recommendations. During a hearing, the court will accept the evidence presented by the guardian ad litem for or against your request to gain guardianship.
- Receive letters of guardianship. Once you are granted guardianship, the court will issue you letters of guardianship. Certified copies of these letters should be given when needed such as at school, doctors’ offices, retirement homes, etc.
If you need help with solving a guardianship matter, contact Bezler Law Firm today and we will help you begin the process of obtaining legal guardianship for someone you know and care about who needs assistance and protection.