For some members of our society, legal protection may be necessary even after they have entered adulthood. These individuals may have been injured in an accident, continue to suffer from an incapacitating physical illness or psychological disorder or have some other condition that prevents them from caring for themselves. In these cases, a guardianship may be established.
Guardianship, also referred to as conservatorship, is a legal arrangement that places an individual, also known as a ward or protected person, under the supervision of a guardian, or custodian. There are two main types of guardianship: guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate or property.
A guardian is typically a family member, friend, or fiduciary appointed by the court. A protected person can be a minor without a parental guardian or an adult who can no longer make safe and sound decisions about his or her own person or property. Additionally, a person may be placed under guardianship who is prone to fraud or undue external influence.
While guardianship does attempt to maintain the protected person’s independence, it should only be considered in appropriate cases, as it may significantly impinge upon the rights of the individual.