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Guardianship Attorney in Kansas City, Missouri

At some point in our lives, we’ll all need help from those around us. This becomes even more true as we age, but you’ll also need help if you suddenly become incapacitated due to an accident or medical condition. Often, this responsibility falls to our close family members and friends, and in some cases, will take the form of legal guardianship. Though there are different types of guardianships that are available depending on the needs of the individual, they should all be established under the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney.

If you’ve recently been named as a guardian of a loved one or you’d like to appoint someone to be a guardian, reach out to us at The Probate Law Center. Our skilled legal team is ready to help those in the Kansas City, Missouri, area and the surrounding areas, including Overland Park, Lee's Summit, Independence, and Kansas City, Kansas. 

Understanding Guardianship

A guardianship is a legal designation wherein one person is appointed to take care of another (referred to as the ward) if they are unable to take care of themselves. The guardian’s role can be limited or quite broad depending on the needs of the ward and the direction of the court, but their primary role is to protect the ward and make legal decisions on their behalf surrounding issues like finances, health care, or property holdings.  

For example, if you have an adult-age child who becomes incapacitated in an accident, as the parent, you may be assigned to be their guardian. This means that the individual is no longer able to make decisions for themselves regarding their basic needs or health care and someone else must take on this role.  

You will also see legal guardians being appointed in elder care. This is especially prevalent for older individuals who are suffering from cognitive diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s and have a steadily decreasing capacity for taking care of themselves. When this person is officially deemed incapacitated, a guardian may be appointed for them. Guardians can also be appointed for minor children.  

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Who Can Be a Guardian?

In most cases, the guardian is a family member or close friend of the ward, but there are also professional and public guardians who can be appointed when there are no other options:  

  • What a guardian can do: In general, when establishing a guardianship, a judge will also lay out all the rights and responsibilities of the guardian. This could include deciding where the ward lives, what health care they receive, ensuring their health and safety are looked after, or managing their finances. The guardian is also required to file regular reports with the courts outlining their actions. 

  • What a guardian cannot do: In most cases, a guardian cannot reimburse or pay themselves for their duties without authorization from the courts. They also must seek authorization for most financial transactions including selling or leasing property, extending mortgages, or bestowing gifts in the name of the ward.  

Types of Guardianships

There are several types of guardianships and each is tailored to the needs of the ward: 

  • Full guardianship: This type of guardian has full decision-making powers for their ward which can include housing, healthcare, and finances. 

  • Limited guardianship: In a limited guardianship, the guardian is only allowed specific powers such as making decisions solely about health care. 

  • Temporary guardianship: A temporary guardian is usually appointed in an emergency situation where someone has been incapacitated and their life is in immediate danger. This role typically lasts for only a short time (often 30 days), and then a permanent guardian is appointed if needed. 

  • Guardianship of the estate: In cases where a minor is in need of help, a guardian may be appointed solely to control their estate until they reach a certain age (usually 18). 

How Is a Guardian Appointed?

The first step in having a guardian appointed is to file a petition with the courts along with a notice to any interested parties. Although it’s not required by law, most people find it extremely helpful to work with an experienced attorney when starting this petition.  

The petition will have to include medical documentation for the individual as well as steps you’ve taken to seek alternatives to guardianship. Your petition will then be investigated, and a hearing will be held to determine whether a guardian is necessary and in what capacity. 

You may also be able to appoint someone in this role before they’re actually needed. For example, a parent can appoint a guardian in case of incapacitation for their minor children, or they can appoint their own guardian should they themselves become incapacitated. 

Guardianship Attorney Serving Kansas City, Missouri

If you’re in the Kansas City, Missouri, area and would like to learn more about the process for appointing or becoming a legal guardian, contact us at The Probate Law Center for guidance.