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What Is Legal Guardianship for Adults?


Generally, adults are considered competent to make their own critical decisions. We are not talking about choosing what color socks to wear or what to eat for breakfast — we are concerned about appropriate personal and financial decisions. When a person can no longer make appropriate decisions regarding personal, financial, and other life decisions, it is time for a guardian to assume the responsibility of caring for that person’s interests. That can be a difficult and emotionally-charged decision, especially if there is the possibility of family interference or mistrust.

What is adult guardianship?

Adult guardianship is the legal process whereby an individual takes on the role of decision-maker for someone who is deemed incapable of caring for himself or herself, or their assets. In other words, the guardian chooses to guard the person from abuse and exploitation. The court maintains oversight of the guardian to reduce the risk of exploitation by the guardian.

Guardianship differs from power of attorney in that the guardian is chosen by the court, whereas the individual chooses who will act as his or her power of attorney. (Read our related article, “How To Obtain Guardianship of a Parent with Dementia in PA“.)

Because of the laws and responsibilities of guardianship, it is wise to consult an experienced, competent lawyer to render legal when an individual is somehow disabled and requires a legal guardian. The law office of Attorney Scott C. Painter, P.C., has decades of experience in these and other elder law matters and stands ready to help individuals in the Reading / Berks County area.

Guardianship can take several forms. Guardianship of the person limits decisions to personal issues, such as medical decisions. Guardianship of the estate is needed when the disabled person has significant assets or is expecting some type of monetary windfall. There are also combinations of the two, depending on the situation and the rational competence of the individual.

There are strict requirements and procedures for appointing a guardian, and the person requiring a guardian has certain rights and legal protections; hence the need to have a competent attorney by your side.

The law office of elder law attorney Scott C. Painter, P.C., is located in Wyomissing (outside of Reading, PA, in Berks County,) and offers trusted legal services in the areas of elder law, including nursing home planning, trust and estate services, and veterans benefits. Scott C. Painter is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA®), and he is also a member of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).

If you have an issue or question, we encourage you to call us. With legal matters, time is of the essence. Call us for a consultation at 610-378-5140. The $300 consultation fee is waived if Attorney Painter is retained to perform services.