What is guardianship?
In the context of this article, we’re talking about guardianship of an “incapacitated person,” essentially a person who, because of a mental or physical condition, is unable to take care of his or her resources and/or meet his or her essential requirements for physical health and safety. Courts are empowered to appoint guardians of the person and the estate, or assets, of an incapacitated person. The court may also order a plenary, full guardianship, or limited guardianship. The guardian, among others, could be an individual or a nonprofit corporation.
A physician or licensed psychologist must evaluate the alleged incapacitated person, and testify why guardianship is necessary.
Because of the deprivation of liberty that guardianship entails, the statute and applicable rules of procedure place emphasis on the due process rights of the alleged incapacitated person.
Moreover, after appointing a guardian, the court may hold a review hearing at any time and must conduct a review hearing promptly upon petition of the incapacitated person, guardian, or any interested party because of a significant change in the person’s capacity, a change in the need for guardianship services, or the guardian’s failure to perform his or her duties in accordance with the law or to act in the best interest of the incapacitated person. The legislature and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently strengthened the guardianship statute and regulations in order to protect against abuse by guardians of incapacitated persons.
If you have a loved one with a disability that warrants a guardian, contact our office for a free initial consultation.