At some point, you may know someone you love (or even you, yourself) who can no longer make important decisions about their well-being. Let’s cover some basic facts on guardianships.


What is a Guardian?

A guardian is a person appointed by a probate court and given the power and responsibility to make certain decisions about the care and custody of another person.

A guardian may be needed when a person (the ward) is unable to manage their personal affairs because of:

  • Mental illness
  • Dementia
  • Infirmity
  • Physical illness
  • Disability
  • Chronic use of alcohol or intoxicants

The guardian has a duty to achieve the best possible state of well-being for their ward. The guardian must also ensure regular visits with the ward and at a minimum, visit the ward every 90 days.

Basic Facts on Guardianships: What is a Ward?

A ward is the individual who is in need of a guardianship. The ward is the individual who will have decisions made for them in his or her best interest. The reason is because those in need of a guardianship are usually incapable of making decisions on their own which are in their best interest.

Difference between Guardian, Conservator, and Attorney in Fact

In some states like Michigan, there exists conservatorships and guardianships. In ways, these two roles share similarities in what they do, but carry it out in different ways. The best way to remember the differences between a guardianship and conservatorship is to look at the root of the word. Guardianships focus on the well-being and health of other people. This can include making choices on a ward’s living arrangements and making medical decisions in the ward’s best interest. A conservatorship on the other hand, is responsible for the financial needs of others. While these two roles address different areas, a guardian and conservator can be the same person or two different people working together.

An Attorney in Fact is different from a guardian or conservator because they are not appointed by the court. An Attorney in Fact is nominated by an individual using a Power of Attorney estate planning document. A Power of Attorneys is a resourceful document as it allows a ward to their Attorney in Fact in advance of possible incapacitation.

Basic Facts on Guardianships: How to Become a Guardian

In order to become a guardian, you will need to file a petition with the probate court of proper jurisdiction. The proper jurisdiction is the probate court in the county where the ward is a resident. The petition will advise the court who is applying to become guardian, who needs the guardian, who are the interested parties, and other relevant information. Most importantly, you will need to obtain medical evidence demonstrating the need for guardianship. Once filed, someone from the court will schedule a visit with the ward who may need a guardian. Then the court will schedule a hearing and decide on the matter and if the court finds your petition to be valid, the court will issue letters of guardianship.

Guardianship Process After Appointment

After a year, there is an annual review which covers the details of the guardianship and determines if there is a basis and need for the guardianship to be continued.

The Probate Pro practices guardianship law. Call us today at (833) PROBATE and we’ll get right to work.