Acting as a Guardian
If the judge approves your petition to become guardian of a disabled or incapacitated adult, you are thereby “appointed” to be the guardian. Following, you will receive by mail from the county clerk, your official “Letters of Office.” These “letters” are actually a single piece of paper with the clerk’s seal naming the type of guardianship granted, person or estate. Take great care with this document: You will need to make several copies, as it will be used to demonstrate your authority to act on behalf of the disabled adult.
After receiving the Letters of Office, there are several steps that need to be taken immediately. Additionally, there are items that must be performed on an annual basis. These steps and items are considered guardian “estate administration.” As discussed below, Hays Firm commits to guiding you through the powers of guardianship process.
Advising on Guardianship Powers and Administration
If you are appointed as guardian to an incapacitated person, your role is very straight forward. As long as you report annually to the court, the court’s involvement in the guardianship administration is minimal. One year after being appointed guardian, a written report must be written to the judge explaining the disabled adult’s well-being—called the “Annual Report.” For example, changes that the disabled adult experienced throughout the year must be identified to the court.
Some counties permit guardians to mail in their annual report, others require the guardian and the disabled adult appear in court each year. As your elder law attorneys, Hays Firm can help with City and County specific laws, always keeping in mind the delicate nature of your situation through this 12 month process. Once the initial report has been submitted, the judge may only require the guardian to report once every two years. However, if the judge has concerns for the disabled adult’s well-being, he or she may re-appoint the guardian ad litem and request further information.
If you are appointed as guardian of the estate, your role is subject to more intense monitoring by the court. After you receive the Letters of Office described above, you will need to create an inventory of the disabled adult’s income and assets. This inventory must be presented to the judge within 60 days, also requiring the guardian to create a budget for the year at times.
Additionally, for this type of guardianship, an account for the benefit of the disabled adult should be opened. Opening a specific account helps the guardian of the estate begin to document each and every transaction. Each year, the guardian must submit “accounting” that details any income the incapacitated person received. The accounting must also list in specific detail, the expenses paid from the disabled adult’s funds. Remember it is important to keep all receipts throughout the year and keep excellent records.
Services Relating to Acting as a Guardian
- Setting up trusts for a disabled adult family member with special needs
- Ensuring that a special needs trust is properly administered
- Preparation of the annual report
- Preparation of the inventory
- Preparation of a budget
- Preparation of an annual accounting
- Representation in Court for all hearings relating to the Annual Report
- Representation in Court for all hearings relating to the inventory and budget
- Representation in Court for all hearings relating to the annual accounting
If you feel it is time to ask the court for power of attorney managing the affairs of a disables relative or loved one or need legal counsel as an appointed guardian, please contact Hays Firm LLC to discuss your options and protect their best interests.