A legal guardian is a person who takes on legal responsibility for another person. This may involve making legal, financial, health care, personal care, and educational decisions for another party. It may also include deciding where the person will live or even providing a residence for the person in need of guardianship. Often, a person who wants to become a legal guardian has to file paperwork with the appropriate court system in his jurisdiction and appeal to the court to grant him guardianship. In some cases, however, legal guardians are chosen by the parents of the party who is in need of guardianship.
Often, people think of children when considering individuals who might be in need of guardians. Sometimes, a child needs a guardian because his parents have died, for example, or because they are unable or unwilling to care for him properly. In some cases, however, an adult may be in need of a guardian. For example, if a person has a severe disability and is unable to care for himself physically, he may need a legal guardian. Likewise, an adult with a mental issue that renders him unable to make sound decisions for himself may be in need of a guardian as well.
The requirements and procedures a person must follow to become a legal guardian may vary from place to place. Different countries and even different regions within the same country may have varying guidelines. In most cases, however, a person who wants to become a legal guardian has to file paperwork with the court system in his area, pay any required fees, and demonstrate to the court that it should give him legal guardianship of the person in question. In some cases, a person may have to submit to interviews, home studies, and background checks as well.
Sometimes, becoming a guardian may be a straightforward and relatively easy process, such as when parents have left a will and named a person as their child's legal guardian. If no one contests the guardianship arrangement, the process may short and simple. If an individual wants to become a guardian and someone else contests the change in court, however, a long and complex legal battle may ensue. This may happen, for example, if a person wants to become the legal guardian of a child whose parents are alive and hoping to retain guardianship.
Since securing legal guardianship can sometimes be difficult or complex, a person who hopes to become a legal guardian may do well to consult with an attorney. An attorney experienced with guardianship cases may be well versed in the jurisdiction's laws and help to ensure that the case proceeds smoothly. Some may offer free consultations.