Competency & Guardianship

When you are in a situation where you have a family member who is unable to fully care for themselves, you need to understand how you are able to get them the help they need. In some situations, this means setting up a legal guardianship so that the proper care can be provided based on the unique situation of the ward (the person for whom the guardian is caring).

In some cases, establishing a guardian is an obvious necessity. For example, when a young child loses their parents for some reason, they will need to have a legal guardian determined. In other cases, however, it is not so obvious. There are times when even the person who is receiving the care does not believe they need a guardian. When this is the case, it is often necessary to have the courts determine competency.

What is Competency for Establishing a Guardianship

When the courts hear a case to determine competency of someone, they are trying to determine if that individual is able to care for themselves. Whenever possible, the courts want to give individuals as much freedom to make their own decisions in life as possible. If you have a loved one who you know needs to be receiving care in this way, you need to make sure you can demonstrate this fact clearly to the courts so you can be appointed as their guardian.

Differences Based on Situation

There is no universal set of standards that is used to establish competency in every case. In addition, there are times when the courts may rule that a person is competent to make some types of decisions on their own, but others they will need help with from a guardian. Some factors that will almost certainly influence the court’s decisions regarding the guardianship include the following:

  •         Age – Minors will almost always need a guardian. As they become legal adults, however, the courts will want to give everyone as much autonomy as possible. While the elderly are certainly entitled to manage their life as they choose, the courts also recognize that people often need more help as they age.
  •         Permanence of Situation – The courts will try to determine if the situation that caused the ward to need care is permanent or if it will go away over time.  
  •         Level of Mental Capacity – If someone is physically disabled but can still make decisions themselves because they are mentally competent, the courts will not be likely to give full control to a guardian.
  •         History of the Individual – If your loved one has fallen victim to scams or other issues in the past, that may be taken into account when determining competency.

Work with an Attorney

Whether you want to petition the court to make you a legal guardian, or you are fighting an effort someone is making to make you their ward, having an attorney is essential. Contact Csepes Law Office to discuss your situation with an experienced lawyer today and see how we can help.

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