Legal Guardianship - Guardians of Minors and Incapacitated Persons in PA
Unfortunately, guardianship proceedings are becoming more and more common as our population ages. The unpleasant truth is that as our bodies age, our minds also tend to lose their function. The loss of function of our bodies and minds makes us unable to take care of ourselves appropriately, or to take care of our daily business. Frequently, we or our loved ones need help with decision making and business dealings. For this reason, Pennsylvania has laws allowing incapacitated persons to have a guardian appointed for them, to look out for these people and take care of their affairs.
"Incapacitated person" means an adult whose ability to receive and evaluate information effectively and communicate decisions in any way is impaired to such a significant extent that he is partially or totally unable to manage his financial resources or to meet essential requirements for his physical health and safety.
Obtaining a PA Guardianship for a loved one is not a simple matter. There is no legal guardianship form to fill out. Rather, a person seeking to be named the guardian of a friend or relative must file a petition with the court. There are differences between seeking a guardianship of the person, or a guardianship of the estate, or a plenary guardianship, or a limited guardianship. However, in all cases, the court will consider the following issues:
(1) The nature of any condition or disability which impairs the individual's capacity to make and communicate decisions.
(2) The extent of the individual's capacity to make and communicate decisions.
(3) The need for guardianship services, if any, in light of such factors as the availability of family, friends and other supports to assist the individual in making decisions and in light of the existence, if any, of advance directives such as durable powers of attorney or trusts.
(4) The type of guardian, limited or plenary, of the person or estate needed based on the nature of any condition or disability and the capacity to make and communicate decisions.
(5) The duration of the guardianship.
In order to prove these elements to the court, legal help is often required. Most people do not have enough familiarity with the legal system to file and prosecute such a petition on their own. That is why over the past thirty years, the lawyers of Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C. have helped many people with guardianships for incompetent friends and relatives, guardians for minors, and temporary guardianships for children. We have experience litigating these matters in Montgomery County, Berks County, and Chester County. Please consider the attorneys at Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C. when you have need of legal assistance to handle these affairs appropriately.
Remember also that a well-drafted Power of Attorney can avoid the need for a guardianship in many cases. It is much easier to prepare a Power of Attorney while you are competent, rather than wait too long and force a loved one to have you declared incompetent. Here, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.
Please click here to contact us today. We will be happy to help you with appropriate planning, or with handling a Pennsylvania guardianship for an incapacitated person or a minor.
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