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WHAT IS A GUARDIANSHIP FORM?

A guardianship form is a legally-binding form used to grant temporary or permanent legal responsibility of a minor or an incompetent adult. Guardianship allows one person or entity to make both financial and non-financial decisions that are in the best interest of the child or adult.

It’s the responsibility of both parents, or a single parent with sole responsibility of a child, to ensure a guardian has been nominated in the event of illness, hospitalisation and death. The guardian is granted durable power of attorney on a temporary or permanent basis.

Guardianship of a person with a mental or physical disability or who is incapacitated for a temporary or permanent period is necessary as the person cannot take care of themselves, communicate effectively, earn a living, manage their finances and live independently of a care facility.

When is a guardianship form used?

A guardianship form is used under the following circumstances:

  • petition for appointment of guardian of a minor
  • petition of appointment of guardian of an incompetent adult
  • order appointing guardian of a minor or incompetent adult

It’s important that the form clearly states whether the transfer of guardianship is a temporary or permanent arrangement. The guardianship form does not stand in place of a custody filing with a family court; in this case, it’s a temporary statement of who will take over responsibility of parenting until legal matters are resolved.

It’s also important that the person taking legal charge of a minor or incompetent adult is comfortable accepting the responsibility.

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What information is included in a guardianship form?

Guardianship forms differ from state to state but they require some basic information.

Identify everyone involved
  • full legal name of the current parents or guardians
  • full legal names of the dependent
  • full legal names of a supplemental, temporary or potential guardians
Provide full details of guardian and dependent
  • date of birth
  • gender
  • address and contact information
  • relationship to dependent
Guardian responsibilities

Provide clear guidelines about the guardians limitations. This covers managing finances, disposing of assets, living arrangements, medication and such that affects the mental, physical and emotional well-being of the child or adult.

Guardianship period

State clearly whether the guardianship is temporary or permanent.

Witnesses, signatures and notarization

A guardianship is a legal document and therefore is required to be signed, witnessed and notarised by a notary public.

Do I need a lawyer for a guardianship form?

It’s not necessary to go through a lawyer to formalise a guardianship form for a minor but in the interest of the child, the guardianship needs to bear weight in a court of law. A guardianship form for a child can be completed with or without parent consent, in the case one or both parents are hospitalised, institutionalised, absent or deceased.

On the other hand, guardianship forms for adults must always be drawn up a family lawyer and seen and notarised by a judge. This is to protect an incompetent adult who is unable to communicate effectively or make their own decisions. The judge makes the final decision as to whether the adult is indeed in need of a guardian and appoints a person or ward to take that legal responsibility.

Difference between guardianship and conservatorship

Both guardianship and conservatorship transfer decision-making powers from one party to the next, but guardianship covers the overall well-being of a child or adult while conservatorship assists purely with financial needs.

A guardian has legal responsibility of a minor or incompetent child and makes decisions for him/her that’s in their best mental, physical and emotional interests.

A conservatorship gives power of attorney to an individual to manage a minor or an incompetent adult’s bank accounts, investments and assets.

A guardian or conservator is typically appointed in a living will or by a court in the event of illness, absence or death of the parent or primary carer.

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