When someone becomes an adult, they are usually responsible for making decisions about their own lives. But what happens when a person can’t make decisions because of a disability or illness? In Maryland, there is a way to help protect and support these individuals through a legal process called guardianship.
What is Guardianship? Guardianship is when a judge appoints a responsible person to make decisions for someone who is unable to make them on their own. This can happen when a person has a developmental disability, mental illness, or other conditions that affect their ability to make sound choices.
Types of Guardianship: There are two main types of guardianship in Maryland: guardianship of the person and guardianship of the property. Guardianship of the person allows the guardian to make decisions about the individual’s healthcare, living arrangements, and daily needs. Guardianship of the property grants the guardian the authority to manage the individual’s finances and assets.
The Guardianship Process: To establish guardianship, a petition must be filed with the court. The court will then evaluate the individual’s capacity to make decisions and determine if guardianship is necessary. The court will also consider the person’s wishes and preferences, if possible. It is important to note that guardianship should only be sought if there are no less restrictive alternatives available.
Responsibilities of a Guardian: Being a guardian is a serious responsibility. The guardian must act in the best interests of the person under their care and make decisions that promote their well-being. They must keep the person informed about decisions whenever possible and involve them in the decision-making process to the greatest extent feasible. They must safeguard the person’s assets and be able to report annually as to the status of those assets.
Conclusion: Guardianship provides a way to ensure that adults who are unable to make decisions for themselves receive the care and support they need. It is a legal process that aims to protect vulnerable individuals and promote their overall welfare. If you or someone you know is considering guardianship in Maryland, it is advisable to seek legal advice to understand the process and responsibilities involved. Remember, guardianship is about providing assistance and support to help individuals live their lives to the fullest extent possible.