Have you been thinking about becoming a guardian? Whether you are trying to be a legal guardian for a minor or an older adult with a disability, there is a lot that goes into it.

In fact, you may find yourself surprised at the entire court process to get there.

Before you get started, you really have to understand what you’re getting yourself into when filing for guardianship. So what does the process look like?

Keep reading to learn more about filing for guardianship and the steps to take.

Look at Your Situation

The first thing that you need to do when becoming a legal guardian is to look at your situation. Since you are responsible for someone else, you need to be in a situation where you can handle this. Not only are you taking care of someone, but you are also going to need to go to court every once in a while.

This requires a lot of time on your part and is not something to take lightly.

If you feel like you still want to take care of this child or adult, you can look at other avenues to determine if there is a better option than becoming a guardian. Additionally, if you are not yet sure that you want to be a legal guardian but want to care for the other person, you can always apply for temporary guardianship. If you want to, this can usually turn into being a legal guardian.

Understand Eligibility

In addition to looking at your situation to be sure that you can take care of another human, you also need to understand if that other person is eligible for guardianship.

This means that if you are taking care of a child, that child needs to be under 18 years of age. They also cannot be emancipated.

If you are looking to be a legal guardian for an adult, the court has to find evidence that the adult is legally incapacitated. This could be for a variety of reasons, but without the incapacity proven, the court will not rule in your favor to be a guardian.

In addition to ensuring that the other person is eligible, you also have to figure out if you are eligible to be a guardian. Here are a few criteria that will take you out of the running to be a guardian for someone:

  • Not enough education to provide for the other person
  • If you are incapacitated or a minor
  • Have a history of conduct or records

Knowing the criteria for if you are eligible before taking it to court will save you a headache down the road.

Hire a Lawyer

Although you may feel that you can go about this situation on your own, it can benefit you to hire an attorney to represent you. Going about obtaining legal guardianship is not easy to do. Having a lawyer on your side can be extremely beneficial and even a cost-effective way to handle your case.

Additionally, some courts may not even hear your case if there is not a lawyer present. You should always look into this before filing a case – especially if you are not going to have a lawyer present.

Fill Out Paperwork

Just as with many other filings and procedures, becoming a guardian requires that you fill out forms and documents.

To do this, you can look up necessary documents and paperwork that you will need to fill out online. Typically you can find it on a state website.

Most likely, you will be filling out a petition to be appointed guardian, a notice of hearing, and a duties of guardian form.

Once you fill out this paperwork, it is time to take it to the courthouse to file with the clerk of courts. You may have to pay a fee to file the documents. After this point, you will receive a hearing date to show up in court.

Give Notice

After filing the paperwork and making the process official, you have to give notice to all interested parties. This means you have to include any relatives of the ward that you are trying to obtain guardianship over as well as state and county agencies. The process to do this difference by state, so you have to ensure that you are following the directions clearly for your specific state.

Going to the Hearing

When it is time to go to the hearing, you need to make sure you have your necessary documents. At the hearing, you are going to have to show evidence that the person needs a guardian. This should be prepared ahead of time so that you are ready to go in court.

In court, you will need to be prepared to listen and respond to what the judge has to say. It is important to be able to have a conversation and present more evidence for the need to be a legal guardian in this case.

After hearing evidence and listening to any objections, you will get the order from the judge.

Become a Legal Guardian

Now that you have read this article, you are more prepared to take the steps toward becoming a legal guardian. It is important to follow these steps to save yourself time, money, and energy!

If you are ready to go and want to hire a lawyer, we can help you here at Smith Baird. You can contact us to get started with your case!