At Cook & Watkins, PLC, our lawyers understand the challenges of adult caregiving. For parents of an adult child with special needs or an adult child with an aging parent, it can be difficult to balance a loved one’s desire for personal autonomy with adequate protection. In certain situations, seeking guardianship or conservatorship may be an appropriate option.
Establishing A Legal Relationship
In Kentucky, guardianship is a legal relationship wherein a court-appointed adult assumes the role of guardian for someone who is no longer able to care for their own needs or a person declared disabled by the court. Depending on the needs or limitations of the ward, the court may appoint a conservator to manage the ward’s finances, a guardian to oversee personal affairs or someone who functions in both capacities.
In cases where the ward can manage certain tasks, a partial guardian supervises the ward in a limited capacity, allowing the ward some independence over their affairs or finances. Under a full conservatorship or guardianship, the appointed guardian fully manages the ward’s affairs and assets. Generally, a family member or friend may assume these roles. However, if no one is able or willing to take on the duties, the court will appoint a state guardian. If you have a loved one that will require ongoing care, you can designate a guardian in your estate planning documents.
Is Guardianship Appropriate?
When considering guardianship, you may have concerns including:
Can my loved one adequately provide for basic needs including food, shelter, and personal care?
Can my loved one effectively manage his or her financial resources?
Could my loved one be taken advantage of, personally or financially, if no one is appointed to act on his or her behalf?
To qualify for a guardianship, an evaluation team will examine your loved one. The evaluation team consists of a physician, a psychologist and a social worker who will review your loved one’s medical records and living arrangements. Following the examination, Kentucky requires a jury trial to determine if your loved one has a legal disability and the extent of assistance needed. If the jury determines your loved one needs help, a judge will appoint a guardian and outline the guardian’s responsibilities.