Are you concerned about a loved one who has lost the ability to make decisions for themselves? Are you worried that their well-being and interests may not be protected? If so, you may need to pursue Maryland Guardianship in order to make sure that your loved one's needs get met.
Guardianship is a legal process that grants authority to a responsible person, known as the guardian, to make decisions on behalf of the individual, referred to as the ward.
However, the process of petitioning for and being appointed as the legal guardian for a loved one can be complex and challenging. Navigating the legal system and fulfilling the various requirements can be overwhelming, particularly when dealing with the emotional stress of caring for a vulnerable loved one. PathFinder Law Group is here to help. PathFinder Law Group can step in to provide much-needed assistance during this tough time.
Your job is to protect your loved ones and keep them safe and healthy. Our job is to help you get appointed as their guardian and be with you every step of the way.
What is Maryland Guardianship?
Guardianship is a legal arrangement designed to help you care for someone who can't make important decisions or look after themselves. By appointing a guardian, the court grants a responsible person the authority to make decisions on behalf of your loved one, ensuring their best interests are protected.
When is Guardianship Appropriate?
Guardianship is appropriate when no less restrictive measure-such as power of attorney-is feasible. Guardianship provides essential protection and support for vulnerable individuals, upholding their well-being, safety, and best interests.
Situations that may require guardianship
Guardianship is primarily used for an individual who is unable to make critical decisions or care for themselves due to factors such as:
- Medical issues;
- Physical disability;
- Cognitive impairment;
- Dementia or Alzheimer's;
- Special needs;
- Any other instance where a loved one is unable to care for themselves medically or financially.
Whether you're looking out for an aging parent with dementia or a child with special needs, guardianship provides a structured and monitored way to safeguard their well-being, rights, and dignity, giving you the peace of mind that they are in your capable and caring hands.
Types of Guardianship and Duties
There are 3 recognized types of guardianship in Maryland: medical guardianship, financial guardianship, and full guardianship.
Medical guardianship-also called guardianship of the person-is when a guardian assumes responsibility for the care and well-being of a ward who is unable to make decisions for themselves.
Duties include making decisions related to:
- Living arrangements;
- Other aspects of their daily life, ensuring their best interests are protected.
Financial guardianship-also called conservatorship or guardianship of the estate or property-is when a guardian is responsible for managing the financial affairs of a ward who is unable to do so themselves.
Duties include making decisions related to:
- The ward's assets;
- Paying bills;
- Making investments;
- Other financial decisions, all while acting in the ward's best financial interests.
Full guardianship includes both medical guardianship (guardianship of the person) and financial guardianship (guardianship of the estate or property).
Understanding the Guardianship Process in Maryland
Navigating the guardianship process in Maryland may seem overwhelming, but understanding each step can make it more manageable. Here's a brief outline of the process in Maryland:
- Assess the need for guardianship: Evaluate if guardianship is the best option for your situation-and what type of guardianship will best meet their needs.
- Gather necessary documentation: Collect relevant medical, financial, and personal records that support the need for guardianship. This will include doctor's assessments, psychological evaluations, and perhaps financial statements. More details about documentation can be found on the Maryland Courts website.
- File a petition: File a petition for guardianship with the appropriate Maryland court.
- Notify relevant parties: Inform the proposed ward and other interested parties, such as family members, certain governmental agencies or close friends, about the guardianship petition.
- Court hearing: Attend a hearing before a judge, where you'll present evidence and testimony to support the need for guardianship.
- Court-appointed investigator: In some cases, the court may appoint an investigator to assess the proposed ward's situation, verify the need for guardianship, and provide recommendations to the judge.
- Judge's decision: Based on the evidence and recommendations, the judge will decide whether to grant guardianship and, if so, outline the guardian's responsibilities and limitations.
- Guardianship appointment: If the judge grants guardianship, the proposed guardian will need to accept he appointment and fulfill any requirements, such as posting a bond in case of financial guardianship.
Maryland guardianship is a complicated process. But an experienced Estates, Trusts, and Elder Law attorney like PathFinder Law Group makes the process as smooth as possible.
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How an Estates, Trusts, and Elder Law Attorney Helps With Each Step
- Evaluate if guardianship is the best option for your situation, and help you to figure out which type of guardianship is best.
- Help you to gather and complete the needed documentation.
- Help you file a petition so you have the best chance of being appointed as the guardian.
- Represent you in court proceedings.
- Help with any modifications to the guardianship appointment.
"How Do I Know I Am Making the Right Decision?"
Deciding whether to pursue guardianship of a relative can be a challenging and emotionally charged decision. To determine if guardianship is the right choice, consider the following factors:
- Capacity: Assess your loved one's ability to make informed decisions about their personal, medical, and financial affairs. If their cognitive or physical impairments prevent them from managing these things independently, guardianship may be your best option.
- Alternatives: Evaluate if less restrictive alternatives, such as a power of attorney, could provide the necessary support for your relative. Guardianship should be considered when these options are insufficient or not feasible.
- Best interests: Reflect on whether assuming guardianship will genuinely serve your relative's best interests. Your primary goal should be to protect their well-being, safety, and dignity while preserving their autonomy as much as possible.
- Legal process: Familiarize yourself with the guardianship process in your jurisdiction and consult with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the legal requirements and potential challenges.
By carefully considering these factors and seeking professional guidance, you can make an informed decision about whether pursuing guardianship of your relative is the best course of action for all parties involved.
Why Choose PathFinder Law Group for Maryland Guardianship?
PathFinder Law Group is an Elder Law and Estates and Trusts firm that specializes in guardianship. Navigating the complex process of guardianship can be challenging. Choosing PathFinder Law Group as your legal partner ensures that you receive unparalleled expertise, compassionate guidance, and tailored solutions for your unique situation.
What a client had to say:
"Mr. Zimmerman was extremely personable, knowledgeable, and professional. He walked me through the process and made sure I understood every detail. I highly recommend his legal services!"-Theresa
PathFinder Law Group has over a decade of legal experience and helped scores of Maryland residents to be successfully appointed as guardians of their loved ones, ensuring their well-being and safety.
Your job is to protect your loved one and keep them safe and healthy. Our job is to help you get appointed as their guardian and be with you every step of the way.
At PathFinder Law Group, We:
- Are client-centered: We prioritize your needs and concerns. We understand that every guardianship case is unique and requires compassionate representation.
- Take a holistic approach: We take a holistic approach to guardianship, assessing every aspect of your case to determine the best course of action.
- Provide ongoing support: We provide ongoing legal support once you are appointed as guardian. We can help you make informed decisions and address legal issues that may arise.
- Offer the best possible chance of being appointed as guardian, so your loved one can be safe and protected.
By choosing PathFinder Law Group, you gain a trusted partner with a proven track record of success in Maryland guardianship cases. Let us guide you through this complex process, safeguarding your loved one's future and providing the peace of mind you deserve.
Let PathFinder Help
We know how important your loved one's care is!
Maryland Guardianship deals with complex processes during a stressful time in your life. Let the best Estates, Trusts, and Elder Law firm in Maryland help you and your loved one today!
Maryland Guardianship F.A.Q.
How long does guardianship last?
- Guardianship lasts until the person passes away or their disability is lifted and they no longer need a guardian, as determined by the court.
- For more information, please read our article: How Long Does Guardianship Last?
How long is the process to get appointed as guardian?
- The Maryland guardianship process usually takes about 6 weeks.
How is guardianship determined by the court?
- You will first need to obtain documents from doctors confirming that guardianship is in the ward's best interest.
- You will then need to submit a petition to the appropriate court.
- The court will then determine whether they believe guardianship is necessary.
- The guardianship could be granted by the court or could end up with a jury (for example, when multiple people want to serve as the guardian).
What is emergency guardianship?
- Emergency guardianship refers to getting a guardianship appointment in a short period of time.
- Emergency guardianship is very challenging and only refers to emergency guardianship for medical circumstances.
- PathFinder Law Group has experience with emergency guardianship, but it is a very challenging process.
What is the difference between guardianship and conservatorship?
- Guardianship typically involves the appointment of a person to make decisions regarding an individual's personal care, medical treatment, and living arrangements (Guardian of the person).
- Conservatorship focuses on managing the individual's financial affairs and assets (Guardian of the property).
- While both aim to protect the well-being of an incapacitated person, guardianship addresses their personal needs, and conservatorship handles their financial matters. However, both are often used synonymously.
Can guardianship be challenged?
- Yes, guardianship can be challenged if a concerned party believes that the appointed guardian is not acting in the best interests of the ward or if the ward's capacity to make decisions has improved.
- In such cases, the concerned party can file a petition in court, presenting evidence for their concerns, and the court may review the guardianship arrangement or appoint a new guardian if necessary.
- The person under guardianship may also challenge the arrangement.
What happens if a guardian is not fulfilling their duties?
- If a guardian is not fulfilling their duties or is found to be acting against the best interests of the ward, concerned parties-such as family members, friends, or professionals involved in the ward's care-can bring this to the attention of the court.
- The court may then investigate the guardian's conduct and take various actions, including reprimanding the guardian, ordering corrective measures, or even removing the guardian and appointing a new one to ensure the ward's well-being and protection.
How does guardianship differ for minors versus adults?
- Guardianship is mainly used for adults.
- For minors, guardianship is decided in the Orphan's Court, though it can also be determined in the Circuit Court.
What is limited guardianship?
- Limited guardianship, also called temporary guardianship, typically involves a specific transaction, such as needing to liquidate a 401K
- For more information, read our article: Temporary Guardianship in Maryland.
Can a person with a criminal record become a guardian?
- It depends on the specific circumstances of the case.
- In general, courts will consider the nature of the criminal offense, the time elapsed since the offense, and the individual's demonstrated rehabilitation when deciding if they are suitable to serve as a guardian.