Guardianship can be an important option for children who lose their parents, or others who are underage and don’t have someone to care for them. But guardianships are also available for adults. Due to outdated beliefs in the court system, those guardianships can sometimes create more problems than they solve.
One of the possible changes being considered is moving to a style of supported decision-making, instead of full guardianship. This would allow an adult to have as much autonomy as possible, so they could live as they wanted to as long as they weren’t hurting themselves or others.
Right now, adult guardianship is much stricter. Getting approval to spend money or make changes to a home, car, career, or personal life can be difficult, keeping the person tightly controlled. While this may be required in some instances, there are many adults that need some additional guidance in life but don’t need to be monitored this closely.
Originally, adult guardianships were designed to protect people with disabilities, who were not legally safe to make their own choices. They might not have understood the consequences of their actions, or made choices that would protect their future. Typically, it was family members who became guardians for people in this situation.
Most states today use their statewide court system for guardianship cases, but there are still some states where guardianship is the domain of the probate court. Many judges in these courts are part-time, and they might not have all the information or knowledge they need to make a fair and just ruling regarding whether someone should have a legal guardian appointed for them.
Changes to the way adult guardianship is handled would provide people in this situation with more autonomy and the opportunity to speak for themselves. Guardianship would become much more of a last resort option for necessary cases, instead of the go-to choice for anyone having struggles in life.
Additionally, guardians would be held more accountable for the choices they make on behalf of the other person. That would reduce their power and help keep them from abusing the authority they have over someone else.
If you’re ready to complete or update your estate planning documents, The Estate Planning & Legacy Law Center can help. Contact us today to get started!