If you need to consult with an attorney on guardianship, please contact the Erie County Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service.
A guardian is a person given the power and the duty to take care of and manage the property and rights of another person by the court. A ward is a person placed by authority of law under the care of a guardian. A guardian of the person is entrusted with the physical care of a person, while the guardian of the estate is entrusted with the care of the ward's property. The same person may be appointed as guardian of the person and guardian of the estate.
There are two common situations when guardianship should be considered. The first is when a person is under the age of eighteen and his or her parents either cannot or will not care for him or her. Any interested person can petition the court for a guardian to care for the child physically, or to manage his/her property.
The second situation in which guardianship may be appropriate is when a person is an adult but is mentally or physically incapacitated. Legal incapacity means that a person's ability to receive and evaluate information effectively and communicate decisions is impaired to such a significant extent that he or she is partially or totally unable to manage financial resources or to meet essential requirements for physical health and safety.
If the Court finds incapacity exists, it will appoint someone as guardian over the ward's person or estate, or both, or the Court may appoint a limited guardian with powers consistent with the ward's needs and limitation.
A guardian has a legal responsibility to his ward which requires him to act in the best interest of his ward at all times.
A guardian must account to the Court for his or her stewardship and will be required to file an annual report or account of the guardianship. Your attorney can assist you in keeping proper records and in filling out these reports. A guardian is always subject to the control and direction of the Court. 2/18