Guardianship is the legal process where one of more persons seek the court’s appointment to manage personal or financial affairs of another. These affairs include managing property, accounts, and making medical decisions for a minor or an incapacitated adult. A court may grant a guardianship when it finds that a minor or incapacitated adult is incapable of managing his or her own personal or financial affairs and there is no less restrictive alternative available. A family member typically seeks guardianship, such as when an adult child seeks to assist an aging parent who is losing capacity. Similarly, an aunt or uncle may seek guardianship over a minor child whose parents are ill, incapacitated, or deceased. The person seeking guardianship must meet certain statutory requirements. Our guardianship attorneys have handled a multitude of guardianship cases across the State of Maryland, representing both the person seeking guardianship (the “Petitioner”) and the alleged disabled person (the “Respondent”).
Guardianships are, by their nature, adversarial proceedings. The person over whom guardianship is sought is entitled to an attorney to represent his or her interests, including determining whether or not the person wants a guardian at all or wants someone other the petitioner to be appointed. Elville & Associates’ attorneys routinely represent petitioners in hotly contested guardianships, where an otherwise incapacitated adult vehemently opposes the appointment of a guardian. We also routinely represent petitioners and respondents where all parties agreed to the appointment of a guardian (uncontested guardianship).
Once appointed, a guardian is required to account on an annual basis to the Circuit Court in the County in which the guardianship was granted. This includes a precise accounting of how the disabled person’s (the ward’s) assets have been used during the accounting period, and an annual statement to the court regarding where the ward lives and a general statement of the ward’s current health.
The guardianship attorneys at Elville & Associates understand the difficulty of taking this enormous step for the care of a loved one. Oftentimes, the person who is alleged to be disabled is a proud person who may not be willing to admit their need for help. Other times, the person who is alleged to be disabled is unfortunately so incapacitated that he or she may not understand exactly what is being done or and objects out of fear or confusion. No matter what the situation may be, our clients have the confidence and assurance that the attorneys at Elville & Associates are sensitive to their needs and the family dynamics and pain that is many times involved in guardianship proceedings.
Our attorneys have represented clients in guardianship cases involving the following:
- Representation of an adult child seeking appointment as guardian of the person and/or property over a parent suffering from dementia or other illness;
- Representation of an adult child objecting to the appointment of his or her sibling as guardian of a parent and seeking appointment in his or her place;
- Emergency representation of adult children or an adult who is alleged to be disabled for the facilitation of “emergency” protective proceedings or a temporary guardianship of the person or property;
- Representation of an adult who is alleged to be disabled and whose children seek guardianship of the person and property;
- Representation of nursing homes who seek the appointment of a guardian of a disabled resident who has no agent to handle his or her affairs;
- Representation involving the defense of an alleged disabled person’s spouse objecting to the petition of a stepchild seeking guardianship over the alleged disabled person;
- Representation of parents seeking guardianship of their child with special needs;
- Representation of grandparents seeking guardianship of their grandchildren;
- Representation of Guardians seeking modification of a Guardianship Order;
- Representation of Guardians seeking to protect the assets of the guardianship estate due to long-term care nursing home costs;
- Representation of interested persons in a guardianship estate who seek the removal of the appointed guardian;
- Fiduciary service as guardian of the person and property of a disabled person;
- Preparation and filing of annual accountings on behalf of the guardian, including arranging and filing tax returns for the ward;
- Counseling, planning, and negotiation of representation agreements, including powers of attorney and testamentary documents, to avoid the appointment of a guardian.