Seeking Guardianship. When an adult cannot adequately manage his or her financial, health, or safety needs, guardianship may be needed. A petition must be filed in Orphans Court, evidence must be presented at a hearing, and, if the judge grants the petition, then the appointed guardian, under supervision of the court, manages some or all of the affairs of the person under guardianship. There are two type of adult guardians. Guardians of the Person are responsible for the health and safety of a person under guardianship. Guardians of the Estate are responsible for the property owned by the person under guardianship.
Because guardianship is expensive and intrusive, it should always be a choice of last resort. Alternatives, such as representative payee, powers of attorney, and other options should be considered first.
Guardianship Alternatives. Sometimes guardianship is not necessary because other less restrictive options such as representative payee or powers of attorney are available. Before asking the court to appoint a guardian, experienced counsel can help to assess whether these options are appropriate.
Guardian representation and consultation. Guardians of the Person and Guardians of the Estate serve under the supervision of the court and must file annual reports. Guardians of the Estate must obtain court permission before spending principal or savings, before selling real property, and before certain other actions. Following the court rules is important. Our office can help you to follow the rules and can represent you in Orphans Court if you encounter a problem.
How to avoid guardianship. While none of us expect to become incapacitated, it happens. A few basic documents can avoid guardianship, in most cases. Durable powers of attorney, advanced directives, and HIPAA medical records release forms are documents everyone should have no matter how old or how healthy.
Guardianship Services. In a limited number of cases, our office will serve as guardian. With an elder care coordinator, elder law attorney, and financial administrator, we provide personalized elder-centered guardianship services.