August 26, 2020 Guardianship

Rights of Persons Under Guardianship

By Michael A. Kirtland

Guardianship proceedings have become a common way of dealing with individuals who have lost capacity as a result of dementia, strokes, physical accidents, and numerous other situations which have resulted in their loss of the ability to care safely for themselves. Unfortunately, the court monitoring of such guardianships varies widely from state to state. (“Guardianships” go by a variety of names depending on the state of residence. Terms such as “guardianship,” “guardian of the person,” and “conservator of the person” all refer to what, for our purposes we refer to as “guardianship.” A “guardianship” for our purposes is a court-imposed appointment of an individual, the “guardian,” who is legally responsible for the health, safety, and management of an individual whom the court has determined lacks mental capacity to care for themselves.) This is a responsibility for the person, as opposed to a “conservatorship,” a court appointment of an individual to manage the assets of an individual who lacks capacity to manage those assets. In recent years a number of guardianship situations have made national and local headlines due to family feuds over the guardianship and the conditions under which the guardianship is handled. The well-known radio host, Casey Kasem, and well-known actors Peter Falk and Mickey Rooney, have faced such situations in which accusations have been made about their treatment, access to family members, and other factors surrounding their guardianship situations have been publicly and legally challenged. The result of these and many less well-known cases have fueled a movement in many states towards the passage of what are commonly known as Guardianship or Ward’s Bills of Rights.

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