It is with sadness when we have to realize that a parent who once cared for us is having difficulty caring for him or herself. It is difficult for both the parent, accustomed to providing for the child, as well as the child, who is now confronted with the mortality of their parent.
If a loved one is having trouble making appropriate decisions or maintaining the responsibilities of everyday living, someone may need to help. Moreover, the person helping may find themselves in a position where they need to have legal authority to act on behalf of their parent. This may even happen where a parent refuses to accept help. In Michigan, a guardianship is necessary to obtain legal authority to manage someone’s healthcare and daily life. A conservatorship will provide authority to manage someone’s finances. It is not uncommon for a person to need both a guardian and a conservator, which can be the same person or different people.
To obtain a guardianship, the person requesting the guardianship must petition the probate court in the county where the individual in need resides—called the ward. The petitioner must demonstrate that the potential ward lacks legal capacity to make his or her own life decisions. The court will review the petition and appoint a “guardian ad litem.” This is different that the guardian. A guardian ad litem (“GAL”) is typically an attorney whose role is to review the facts and circumstances and to the best of the GAL’s ability, advocate for the potential wards best interests, whether that is the appointment of a guardian or otherwise.
After the GAL prepares a report, the court will consider the petition. If the potential ward is not resisting the appointment, the court may appoint a guardian. If the potential ward is contesting the appointment, an evidentiary hearing will be held, where both the petitioner, the potential ward, or respondent, and the GAL will attend. Each will present their position, and at the conclusion the probate court will make a decision.
People may need a guardian due to the onset of dementia or Alzheimer's, but a guardian may also be appointed for an adult with mental illness or deficiency, physical illness or inability, or chronic substance abuse. The petition to be filed, as well as any court appearances, will have different needs depending on the reason and purpose for the guardianship.
If you are seeking a guardianship or conservatorship, contact the experienced attorneys at Neumann Law Group for a free consultation.