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Powers, duties and limitations of guardianships

When you have a family member who is disabled or unable to make decisions on his or her own, you probably wish you could help them. One way that might possible is to become a guardian over the person. Becoming a guardian is a very serious responsibility that must be carefully considered, but in some instances, it can be a good tool for ensuring that the disabled person is properly cared for. Readers in Michigan might be interested in learning about some basic facets of guardianships.

What is a guardianship?

A guardianship allows a guardian to make decisions for the ward, which is the term for the disabled person. A guardianship can be granted for medical decisions, financial decisions and others decisions. If the ward has real estate and other assets, the guardian is usually responsible for the upkeep of those assets, as well as the bill payment for those assets. A guardianship is established in court.

What does a guardian do?

The duties of a guardian aren't exactly straightforward because of the varied situations that can occur with a ward. Some of the possible duties or powers of a guardian include making educational decisions, making financial decisions, updating the court on the ward's condition and caring for the ward. It is important that anyone who pursues guardianship or who is appointed as a guardian understand the full scope of the order of the court since the scope can vary greatly.

What can't a guardian do?

Generally, a guardian isn't supposed to hinder the independence of the ward. While it is true that the guardian does have the power to make absolute decisions for the ward as long as those decisions are in line with the court-established powers, the guardian shouldn't micromanage the ward. In most cases, the ward's desires do have to play a part in the decisions that are made by the guardian.

Knowing the ward's desires and court's purpose for awarding a guardianship are vital components to someone being a good legal guardian. Those who are facing becoming a guardian should make sure to get questions answered so they understand exactly what their responsibilities are.

Source: FindLaw, "Guardianship of Incapacitated or Disabled Persons" Aug. 11, 2014

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