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What is Guardianship and Why is it Needed?

May 3, 2020

As a parent, you know that you want to ensure the proper care of your child even if you are unable to provide it yourself. As an adult, you need to make sure that your parents have someone who can make important decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so. A guardian is a person or organization that is appointed by the court to oversee the care and control of another.

Wisconsin law states that the court may appoint a guardian when necessary. There are two main reasons that a guardian may be necessary.

Minor: If the parents of a minor are no longer available due to death or other circumstances, it might be necessary to appoint a legal guardian. A minor is any child under the age of 18. Generally, once a child turns 18 he or she is considered an adult and the guardianship is over. Incapacitated Adult: An older individual may require a guardian if he or she is incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions on his or her own behalf. In that case, a guardian may be appointed for a period of time or indefinitely.

The Role of the Guardian

A guardian has a special and important role in someone’s life. Wisconsin law states that a guardian “has the duty and authority to make important decisions in matters having a permanent effect on the life and development of the child and the duty to be concerned about the child’s welfare.” This includes such things as:

  • Represent the child in legal actionsConsent to marriage or enlistment in the armed forcesRight and duty of reasonable visitation
  • A legal guardian has all of the same rights and responsibilities as a parent. The guardian plays a significant role in the life and development of a child. In the case of an incapacitated person, the guardian generally has the right and responsibility to handle legal and medical decisions on behalf of the person.

How to Establish Guardianship

The most common example of guardianship occurs when a biological parent passes away and provides for a guardian for their minor child. The guardianship is established through the courts and your choice for guardian will be approved unless there is some important reason that causes the situation to be unacceptable. You can name a guardian in your will, and it is a good idea to name a backup guardian, as well. Make sure that you discuss your intentions with the proposed guardian.

If you want to establish guardianship over an adult, you must file a petition with the court in the county with jurisdiction over the person’s residence. It is helpful to seek legal guidance for the guardianship process. Your attorney will review your situation and assist with the proper filing of a petition. You will receive a court hearing date where your case will be evaluated and a decision will be made. It is important that you have all of the documentation and information necessary to back up the guardianship petition. Your lawyer will help you gather the necessary data.

To learn more about guardianship and to establish a guardian, contact our legal team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. today.

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