What are Guardianship Rights?

A guardianship is put in place in cases where someone may not be capable of taking care of him or herself, either mentally or physically. The services provided by the guardian vary, depending on the needs of the individual under guardianship, but in general, the goal is for the individual is to have the least restrictive care possible, while still protecting personal and financial interests. Guardianship rights of the individual include the right to an attorney, the right to notification of all hearings, and the right to attend all hearings, providing evidence and supporting testimony for his or her benefit.

There are certain guardianship rights that every guardian must respect. A guardian cannot have the individual he or she is responsible for admitted to a psychiatric hospital without a hearing and access to an attorney, or permission from a judge. The guardian is also not permitted to agree to sterilization, electroshock therapy, or any type of experimental treatment without permission from a judge.

Guardianship rights demand that the person under guardianship maintain his or her civil rights to the extent possible, and any limits placed on behavior be made only to the point necessary to protect the individual's interests. Guardians responsible for finances must use the money for the individual's needs and safeguard all assets. The court must agree to any disbursements of funds.

There are certain rights that someone under guardianship loses. Someone under guardianship may lose his or her right to vote, marry, manage money, travel, make medical decisions, or enter into contracts. The judge responsible for the guardianship will attempt to allow the individual as much autonomy as possible. If the individual under guardianship is unhappy with the guardian, he or she can petition the court for a change of guardian.

It is within the scope of guardianship rights to request a termination of guardianship. The individual must complete a form requesting termination and submit it to the court. The court will schedule a hearing regarding the termination, and must provide the individual with an attorney, at no cost if necessary. At the hearing, the judge will hear from the individual under guardianship, the guardian, and any individuals that can speak either for or against the recommendation to terminate the guardianship. The judge can decide to terminate the guardianship, change the parameters of the arrangement, or make no changes at all.

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