Rhode Island Elder Law Attorney - Guardianship
Elder Law Attorney for Rhode Island, Eastern Connecticut and Southeastern Massachusetts
What is a Guardian?
A guardian is a person appointed by the court to make decisions about health care and personal matters for an adult who is incapacitated. In most states, statutes define "incapacitated" as being unable to make or communicate the decisions necessary to provide for the person's basic physical health and safety.
A guardian is typically a family member or an attorney appointed by the court to make decisions for a person regarding health care, personal affairs and financial matters. A guardian may collect and invest the assets of the person requiring a guardianship, and assist the individual with paying bills and making decisions about living arrangements and medical decisions.
For adults, typically the guardian determines health care treatment including end of life decisions, placement, and visitation. Authority is very broad. Generally, these decisions do not require prior court approval.
Appointing a Guardian
The process begins when an attorney representing a family member or other concerned person (called the petitioner) files a petition with the court that includes facts showing the respondent is incapacitated. In many cases, the petition asks the court to appoint both a guardian and a conservator. The respondent has to be personally served with a copy of the petition, together with a notice about his or her rights. Copies of the petition and notices about the guardianship case have to be mailed to the respondent's closest relative(s) and to other people and agencies required by the law. The respondent can object to the guardianship or to the proposed guardian. Other people can also object. Objections are only filed in a small number of cases.
The judge appoints a court visitor to interview the people involved in the case and to write a report for the court. If no objections have been made and the court visitor's report supports the guardianship, the judge will usually sign an order appointing the guardian. Once a guardian has been appointed, the respondent is called the protected person.
Powers and Duties of the Guardian
The guardian has the powers that are included in the order signed by the judge. Usually, the guardian will have the power to decide where the protected person lives, to make arrangements for the protected person's care and safety, and to make health care decisions. If there is no conservator, the guardian may be responsible for taking care of the protected person's belongings and a limited amount of money.
The guardian must file a report with the court every year with information about where the protected person lives, the services that the protected person receives, and his or her physical and mental condition. If the guardian is taking care of money, the report has to include information about the money.
The Rhode Island elder law attorney at Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. has acted as a guardian for hundreds of individuals in the community, in assisted living residences, skilled nursing facilities, and hospitals.
Guardian ad litem
Another type of guardianship that exists is a guardian ad litem (GAL). This is when a person is appointed by a judge to represent a person who is unable to be present in court. The guardian is responsible for protecting the rights and interests of that person during a single court case. A GAL is appointed in cases mostly involving children or incapacitated individuals. GALs are only responsible for helping that person resolve their court case. The Rhode Island elder law attorney at Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. has handled hundreds of GAL cases during our decades of practice.
Is a Guardian Always Required?
Some people who might otherwise need a guardian can be served in a less restrictive way. This includes advance medical directives or health-care proxies, finding personal caregivers, using Powers of attorney, assigning Representative payees and developing appropriate Trusts. At Connelly Law Offices, Ltd., we can help you determine how best to help your loved one manage their personal finances and affairs.
An experienced guardianship attorney at Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. can assist you in drafting and filing a petition for guardianship, or we can act as a guardian. We have acted as guardians for hundreds of individuals in the community, assisted living residences, skilled nursing facilities and hospitals during our decades of practice and understand the important role we have in the protected person's life. Contact us today.
---- RJ Connelly III
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