How to Apply for Guardianship of Your Adult Child
If your adult child is incapable of caring for themselves or managing their financial affairs, it may be necessary to obtain a legal guardianship over them. Depending on your state, a guardianship over an adult may be known as a guardianship or conservatorship.
In some states, guardianships cover personal affairs while conservatorships covers financial affairs. In other states, a conservatorship may be the term for someone who manages personal affairs, financial affairs or both. It is a good idea to get a lawyer to guide you through the process.
6 Steps to Apply for Guardianship of Your Adult Child
1. Try to obtain legal assistance.
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys can refer you to a lawyer who is experienced in guardian or conservator matters. If you cannot afford an attorney, check with your local courthouse. Many courthouses have volunteer attorney programs or workshops to assist you with the guardianship process.
2. Obtain the appropriate legal forms.
If you have an attorney, he will prepare the paperwork for you. If you do not, the court can help you obtain the appropriate forms. Read the instructions carefully, and fill out the forms completely and accurately.
3. File the forms with the courthouse.
If you have an attorney, she will do this for you. If you cannot afford the fee for filing the petition, ask the court if there is a process to request that the fee be waived.
4. Record the hearing date you obtain once the petition for guardianship is filed, and determine what you need to do before the hearing.
Generally, you will be required to send a copy of the petition to your child and get a doctor’s evaluation of your child’s mental capacity. The court will assign your child an attorney to represent him. The attorney will meet with your child to determine whether a guardianship is appropriate.
5. Research the laws and rules of your state before the hearing to make sure you understand what your responsibilities and duties will be as a guardian.
If you are taking charge of your child’s financial affairs as well as their personal affairs, you will be required to keep detailed accounts of all the financial transactions you make on her behalf and report them to the court regularly.
6. Show up to the court on time and dressed appropriately for your hearing.
Bring copies of your petition and all the supporting paperwork, including any doctor’s evaluations. Answer all questions you are asked honestly, and do not be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something.
At the end of the hearing, the court will make an order either granting or denying your petition, or continuing the hearing to a later date if there is not enough information to decide. Whatever the result, be sure you understand what it means and what you need to do next.
Your courthouse can be an important legal resource. Many courts offer workshops or volunteer attorney services to help people who cannot afford legal counsel. They offer access to the forms you need, and the court attorneys can sometimes give you advice and guidance for where to seek assistance.
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