A family can never emotionally prepare for an unexpected tragedy that leaves a loved one disabled. Typically when an adult relative with financial obligations is suddenly unable to work, provide access to assets, communicate, and make decisions, his or her family members struggle to meet those obligations. The family needs quick access to the disabled person’s property to begin to manage his or her affairs and make decisions.
The Probate Court may provide some immediate relief through the appointment of a guardianship of the disabled person. There are 2 types of guardianship—of the person and of the estate of the person. Guardianship of the person give the guardian authority to make decisions regarding the person’s care only whereas guardianship of the estate grants the authority to make decisions related to the person’s property. Therefore, if the disabled person does not have any property it is not necessary to seek guardianship of the estate.
The Court may find that it is necessary to appoint a professional called a Guardian ad Litem to go and visit the disabled person at the hospital and to submit a report documenting that the disabled person is unable to communicate and make decisions for him or herself. A medical doctor will also be required to submit a similar report to the court assessing the medical condition of the disabled person.
Once the judge hears from these professional and finds that the disabled person is unable to communicate and make decisions and the person seeking guardianship is a suitable person to serve as guardian, the court will grant the guardian, providing a family much needed help to move forward.