When filing a Petition, you must bring with you:
• $68 filing fee per applicant
• List of Respondent’s financial assets (income, real-estate, stocks etc.)
• Proof of the respondent’s social security number
• Names and addresses, including zip codes, of respondent’s next of kin
Following successful application:
The petition will be reviewed by a representative of the County Attorney’s Office to determine if the case is to proceed. If it is denied, the petitioner will be notified.
If approved, the respondent will be appointed an attorney to represent his or her interests. This attorney is referred to as the Guardian Ad Litem. Petitioners may choose to retain their own private attorney but need not do so.
The trial should be scheduled within 60 days. In this time the respondent must be examined by an interdisciplinary team of a physician, social worker and psychologist. Each assesses the respondent individually and creates an evaluation before meeting as a team to prepare a report to the court.
It is the petitioner’s responsibility to insure that the respondent is available to be evaluated by the team members.
In addition, it is also the petitioner’s responsibility to insure that the respondent be present at the hearing.
The physician team member, however, may determine that attendance at the hearing would subject the respondent to serious risk of harm and waive his or her appearance.
The individual or persons appointed as guardian will need to be insured or bonded in the amount of the respondent’s assets. A list of bonding companies is included in the petition paperwork. It is recommended that petitioners contact insurers for information before the trial.
Guardianship requires a jury trial. All proceedings are confidential and limited to petitioner and those friends and family that the Respondent may wish to have present. Petitioners will likely be asked to testify as will at least one member of the interdisciplinary team.
Juries may decide financial and personal affairs on behalf of the Respondent. For each issue, juries will determine either “No Disability”, “Partial Disability”, or “Full Disability.”
What are the financial costs involved in a Disability Proceeding?
The total costs, including the interdisciplinary team fees, usually range from $500 to $1500.
The fees will either be paid by county funds or from the ward’s funds depending on the estate of the ward. This determination is made by the Judge after the trial.
What are the Emotional Consequences involved in a Disability Proceeding?
It may be painful or unpleasant to have to prove that the respondent should not be allowed to keep making decisions for himself or herself.
The respondent must participate in three evaluations and the petitioner must bring the respondent to court.
The respondent must sit through a jury trial that will focus on his or her inability to make personal and financial decisions.
The petitioner may be required to testify and state the facts that led him or her to believe that the respondent is unable to make informed decisions.
Who may Act as Guardian or Conservator?
After the disability trial, the court may appoint any person or any public agency to act as guardian or conservator. The law gives preference to family members but the court will appoint the best person or public agency qualified and willing to serve. The court will also consider the wishes of the ward in this matter.
What is a Standby Guardian or Standby Conservator?
At the time that a guardian or conservator is appointed, or at a later date, the court may appoint another person as standby guardian or standby conservator to succeed the initially appointed guardian or conservator after a death, resignation or inability of the guardian to serve. It is best to designate this person at the initial appointment of a guardian.
The court can also appoint a co-guardian. However, both individuals must be present at all guardianship activities (i.e. signing checks, attending doctor’s appointments, etc.).
The court may also choose to limit the length of time a guardian is appointed.
What are the duties of a Guardian/Conservator?
A guardian is responsible for the care and custody of the ward. Depending upon the specific rights taken away from the ward, the guardian’s duties may include:
Arranging for a place for the ward to live
Arranging for medical, educational, social, vocational and rehabilitation services
Managing the ward’s financial resources and paying the bills of the ward. The court will require that a guardianship checking account be opened in the ward’s name.