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Managing a Ward’s Property and Finances in a Guardianship Estate

Managing a Ward's property and finances in a Guardianship Estate

When your loved one needs care, you can petition the court to be appointed as the Guardian of the Person and Estate. A guardian is someone who is given the legal responsibility to care for another person. A Guardian of the Person is responsible for the ward’s physical well being and medical decisions, whereas a Guardian of the Estate is entrusted with authority to make financial decisions on behalf of the ward.

In appointing a guardian, the judge considers the unique facts of each case to determine the extent of care needed. Once you are appointed as the guardian of the ward, you are responsible for making healthcare decisions for the individual. If you would like to learn about how to become a guardian, check out our article “Using Guardian Proceedings to Protect Your Elderly Loved One”.

Once you are appointed as the Guardian of the Estate, there are a couple of things that you must do. First, the guardian is required to file an inventory of the estate within 60 days of the appointment. An inventory is a list of the ward’s income and assets. After an inventory is filed, the guardian will create a budget estimating the amount of expenses necessary to care for the ward on a yearly basis. For example, the Guardian can estimate spending $500 on entertainment for the ward such as movies, board games, etc. The amount differs for every case depending on the amount of money in the estate and each ward’s living situation and interests. The judge will sign off on the budget if they believe it is reasonable, but they may propose changes as well.

There are instances where a guardian may wish to purchase items for the ward that are outside of the proposed budget. If the guardian would like to do a one-time transaction, they will file a petition with the court called a Petition for One-Time Expenditure. A one-time expenditure may be the purchase of new hearing aids, a wheelchair, or other costly items that do not need to be purchased often or more than once. Every time the guardian wants to spend money from the estate that surpasses the budget, a judge must sign off on it with an official Order.

At the end of each year, the judge requires an annual accounting to be filed with the court. An annual accounting is a document that lays out each transaction made using the money from the estate in addition to any income the ward received and any debt paid on behalf of the person.

Acting as a guardian is a major responsibility that requires attention to each transaction and payment made out of the ward’s estate. Filing accountings and creating proposed budgets can be complicated and confusing to some guardians which is why our team at Hays Firm puts in the time and effort necessary to create a plan that is in the best interest of the ward, and one you feel is appropriate under the circumstances. Schedule a free consultation to see how we can help you by filling out this form.