Edmond Guardianship Attorneys
Ensuring You and Your Loved Ones Are Protected
Sometimes loved ones will not be able to take care of themselves. Minor children who lose their parents or aging adults who become mentally incompetent can both face this unfortunate dilemma. The solution lies in guardianship, a legal mechanism in which a court authorizes an individual to oversee their wellbeing and make decisions on their behalf.
Unlike powers of attorney, the person in question does not establish a preferred guardian in advance. Recommendations can sometimes be made, especially if a guardian is named for minor children in a will or trust, but guardianships must be approved by an Oklahoma court under the Oklahoma Guardianship and Conservatorship Act.
Pursuing a guardianship can be a protracted, confusing process, especially if disputes are involved. Our Edmond guardianship lawyers at Gossen and Schaller, PLLC are intimately familiar with Oklahoma’s laws and are equipped to help you obtain guardianship for your loved one.
Who Needs a Guardian?
Oklahoma has specific rules governing where guardianships are necessary. Broadly, a guardianship is intended for anyone who is incapable of taking care of themselves. The subject of a guardianship is referred to as a ward.
Being unable to take care of themselves generally manifests in the form of a physical or mental disability, particularly ones that impact mobility and cognitive ability. It can also extend to certain dependencies, like drug or alcohol addictions. Guardianships can be deemed necessary even in situations where an individual can take care of some elements of their lives but not all of them.
Minor children without surviving parents, for example, require a guardian by default, as they are not legally considered to be able to take care of themselves on their own. Desired guardians are typically left by parents in a will or trust, but the candidate is still subject to the approval of a court. Should the parents be alive but unable to care for the children, a guardianship can be sought by family members.
Types of Guardians
There are several types of guardians with varying degrees of control. The nature of the ward’s situation will determine what type of guardian is necessary.
Types of guardians recognized in Oklahoma include:
- General guardian – in which the guardian has authority over the ward and their property
- Limited guardian – in which the guardian has limited responsibilities defined by the court, often used in situations where the ward is not completely incapable of taking care of themselves
- Special guardian – in which the court appoints a temporary guardian for emergency, high-risk circumstances and almost never exceeding 30 days in duration; often, a special guardian will petition to become a general guardian at the conclusion of the term
Who Can Become a Guardian?
Not just anyone can petition to become a guardian and expect to be approved. Oklahoma courts have enshrined preferences on who can become guardians, especially in cases involving minor children under 14 years of age. In fact, children 14 years of age and older can nominate their own guardian for consideration.
Oklahoma courts generally adhere to the following order of preference when considering guardians:
- The individual or individuals requested by the ward
- The current guardian or limited guardian
- The spouse of the ward
- An adult child of the ward
- A parent of the ward
- A sibling of the ward
- An individual who lived with the ward for a period greater than 6 months
- The individual or individuals named in a will or trust of the parent of a minor child or the will or trust of a current guardian who passes away
For situations involving minor children, courts will again take into account the child’s wishes if they are at least 14 years of age. Should that recommendation be unsuitable or if the child is younger, the court generally seeks out the most immediate blood relative available. Ultimately, the court is looking for the most capable guardian possible, and our skilled guardianship attorneys in Edmond can work to make sure the right choice is made.
Guardianship is not as simple as getting to make decisions for the ward. A guardian has substantial responsibility to manage the ward’s affairs and consequently must have a considerable understanding of their daily and long-term needs.
Guardians are required to do the following:
- File an inventory of the ward’s estate
- Facilitate care for the ward
- Ensure the ward has access to basic health necessities
- Understand and act upon the needs, health, and goals of the ward
- File regular reports on their activities as it relates to caring for the ward
Guardians will have to prepare and submit a “Plan for the Care and Treatment” of the ward that outlines how they intend to carry out the above responsibilities. Special guardianships expire on their own by design, but any type of guardianship can be ended with the intervention of a court. Guardianships tend to organically end if they involve a minor child who comes of legal age or if an incapacitated adult becomes able to make their own decisions.
Courts might end a guardianship prematurely, however, should the guardian fail to live up to their duties. They may also object if the guardian mismanages or abuses the ward’s financial affairs, if the ward’s safety is called into question, or it becomes clear the ward and guardians’ goals are in conflict.
We Can Help You with Guardianship
The goal of any successful guardianship is to assign an able loved one to protect the physical and emotional safety of the ward. You want someone who has the best interests of the ward at heart, whether that be you or another trusted individual you know can accept the responsibility. Guardianship can be a court-intensive process, and our Edmond guardianship lawyers at Gossen and Schaller, PLLC can represent you at every stage. Our over 20 years of combined legal experience equips us with a complete knowledge of how guardianship is decided in Oklahoma, and we will do everything in our power to not only achieve your goals but also make the experience as straightforward as possible.
“You really took the time to understand our family needs and situation. Your advice was easy to understand and the process was so simple that it helped ease our anxiety.”- Sandy M.
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