It’s a sad reality that, at some point in all of our lifetimes, a situation may arise in which we are unable able to take care of ourselves or make our own medical decisions.  When this happens, we refer to the person as an incapacitated individual. If an incapacitated individual has a healthcare power of attorney, also known as a patient advocate designation, the person they nominated can make the medical decisions for them, as well as other decisions related to placement, care giving, etc.

When a Guardianship is Needed

However, if the incapacitated individual has no healthcare power of attorney, a relative or friend will need to petition the probate court for Guardianship over the individual. At the hearing, the court will appoint a guardian who is authorized to make personal decisions related to incapacitated individual’s health and living needs. The Guardian will leave with a court order permitting them to make health and welfare decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual. Guardians are typically appointed when an individual is either: 1) developmentally disabled, 2) a minor without a living parent, or 3) an incapacitated adult. Depending on the situation, a guardian’s responsibilities will vary, but taking on this role requires a commitment to the incapacitated person.

What a Guardian Does

The guardian for a minor is responsible for ensuring all of the minor’s educational, social, and other basic needs are met, such as providing secure housing, food, and clothing for the minor. The guardian must also report to the court at least annually on the condition of the minor, how they are developing, whether there are any issues that need to be addressed, etc.

Similar to a minor guardianship, guardians for developmentally disabled or legally incapacitated individuals are also responsible for making arrangements for their care, comfort, and well being. Depending on the person’s individual condition, their guardian may also need to secure services to restore them back to the best possible state of mental and physical well being, and give consent to any and all reasonable and necessary medical treatment, care, counseling, and/or services as dictated by their disability.

The amount of authority held by any guardian can vary. This authority largely depends upon the state in which the incapacitated person resides, as states have differing laws regarding a guardian’s right to decide the incapacitated person’s place of residence and authorized medical treatment.

Whatever Your Needs and Whenever You Need Us: We’re Here For You!

If you think someone you know is in need of a guardian, please contact us for a free consultation at 248.399.3300 or Our day is dedicated to ensuring you and your loved ones are cared for in every situation.