Adult Guardianships

Over five million Americans suffer from dementia. This serious loss of brain function hinders the ability of seniors to care for themselves and make sound decisions. In these cases, a guardianship may be necessary to protect their quality of care, assets and legacy.

Guardianships for Adults

Guardianship is a legal arrangement that places an individual, also known as a ward, under the supervision of a guardian.  There are two main types of guardianship: guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate..

A guardian is typically a family member, friend, or fiduciary appointed by the court. A protected person can be a senior who is no longer able to make safe and sound decisions about his or her own person or property, or who is prone to fraud or undue external influence.

Appointment of a guardian can materially limit the rights and privileges of the protected individual in areas such as:

  • Choosing residence
  • Providing informed consent to medical treatment
  • Making end-of-life decisions
  • Making property transactions
  • Obtaining a driver’s license
  • Owning, possessing, or carrying a firearm or other weapon
  • Contracting or filing law suits
  • Marriage
  • Voting

Right to Due Process

In order to safeguard the protected person’s right to due process, he or she is provided with notice and is entitled to attend all legal proceedings related to guardianship. In addition, the protected person may obtain representation by an attorney, present evidence, and confront and cross-examine all witnesses.

Guardianship of the Person

Guardianship of the person grants authority over non-financial matters such as issues that impact the personal well-being of the protected person, including making important medical decisions. The appointed guardian is normally tasked with the following responsibilities

  • Determining and maintaining residence
  • Providing informed consent to and supervising medical treatment
  • Consenting to and supervising non-medical services such as education, psychiatric or behavioral counseling
  • Making end-of-life decisions
  • Maintaining the protected person’s autonomy as much as possible

Guardianship of the Estate

Guardianship of the estate empowers the guardian to make important financial decisions on behalf of the protected person, including:

  • Organizing, gathering and protecting assets
  • Arranging appraisals of property
  • Safeguarding property and assets from loss, whenever possible
  • Managing income from assets
  • Making appropriate payments
  • Obtaining court approval prior to any sale of major assets

wh Law, routinely works with seniors and their loved ones to determine the best course of action, file the required paperwork and represent them in proceedings with the appropriate administrative agencies. We also work with the guardian to keep an up-to-date accounting of the estate.

How to get Guardianship of an Adult in Little Rock

In Arkansas, a legal guardianship through a court order. Due to their seriousness, a hearing must be held and a judge must review the facts to decide if the ward is legally incapacitated and in need of a guardian.  Families need to find legal representation helpful during a guardianship case because proving one is a challenge without training or experience.

What is the Process to get a Guardianship in Arkansas

The process to get a guardianship in Arkansas is the following:

  1. File a Petition with the court. You will need to make sure you include and the necessary items. They can be found here: § 28-65-205
  2. Get the appropriate evaluation from a doctor that has seen the ward in the last 6 months.
  3. Serve all interested parties with notice of the guardianship. § 28-65-207
  4. Attend the hearing and prove the appropriate elements. § 28-65-213
  5. Receive the guardianship court order and review it and the legal responsibilities with your legal team.
  6. Follow through on the court order’s provisions including annual accountings.

Who can be Appointed as a Guardian in Arkansas

To be appointed as guardian in Arkansas there are four conditions the individual must meet.  A guardian must be:

  1. A resident in the State of Arkansas (there are ways around this)
  2. At least 18 years of age
  3. Of sound mind
  4. Not a convicted felon, unless you have been pardoned by the Governor. (Guardian of the Estate)

Most of the time, a close family member applies for a guardianship.  Typically, it is spouse, adult-aged child, parent, or grandparent.  Arkansas law does not specifically state that you have to be related to the ward.

You can change legal guardians in the future by going through the legal process again, but doing so requires additional time and money without any guarantees.  If your family is struggling to appoint someone, we can offer advice and guidance in this area.

What are the responsibilities of a Guardian in Arkansas?

Guardians have the following responsibilities in Arkansas:

  • To exercise care and protect their property
  • To account for the actions they take

Guardians are not allowed to the do the following:

  • Denying the ward his or her rights to get a driver’s license
  • Preventing doctors from attending to his or her medical needs
  • Terminating parental rights and responsibilities over a minor
  • Spending money on major asset acquisitions
  • Closing or transferring ownership of a business to someone else

Guardians must follow Arkansas law with the ward’s property when they receive legal guardianship powers.

Courts account for violations by scheduling an annual hearing.  At that point, a probate judge will review the guardian’s actions as compared to the court order.  If he or she observes illegal guardian behavior, the ward or their estate can hold him or her legally accountable for their losses.

Conservatorship

A conservatorship in Arkansas is similar in procedure to a guardianship, but it is different than conservatorships granted in other states. In Arkansas, a conservatorship is granted when your friend or loved one is competent but they are aged or physically disabled so it is hard for them to handle their affairs. In these proceedings you do not need an evaluation of a doctor,  however proof that they want you to be the conservator wants your help is required, which means a hearing is needed concerning the evidence of consent your offer to the court.

Drop us a line if you need help

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. We are here to guide you through the process and make sure you understand what is going on and the next best steps.

 

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