Becoming a Guardian of Property in Maryland
The initial step in initiating a guardianship proceeding is to file a petition. The petition includes the name, address, telephone number, and general contact information of the alleged incapacitated adult. It includes all of the same information for the potential ward or potential guardian. It lists all of the interested persons in the case, which are generally the heirs of the alleged incapacitated adult. Contact a Maryland guardianship lawyer for more complete information about the process of becoming a guardian of property.
Petition Requirements in Maryland
The petition will often recite that there are no less restrictive means of intervention, for example, that there were no powers of attorney or no other way to accomplish the same task of assisting the ward to make decisions. Generally, if it’s a petition for a guardianship of the property in Maryland, it will also list the ward’s assets, the nature of the assets, the location of the assets, and the estimated amount of the assets.
In addition, the petitioner will typically attach two physician’s certificates to the initial petition. The physician’s certificates recite that the physician has examined the ward and finds that the ward lacks the requisite capacity to make either legal and financial decisions or medical decisions on his or her own behalf.
After the petition is filed, the court will often appoint an attorney for the alleged incapacitated adult. The attorney will visit the alleged incapacitated adult and, if possible, determine if the adult agrees to the guardianship or contests the guardianship.
In the event that the guardianship is not contested, the initial hearing may result in the appointment of a guardian of the person or the property. In the event that the guardianship is contested, then the initial hearing may serve to outline a trial date and to set applicable trial deadlines.
If a trial is required, then the first step during the trial is to prove that the adult can no longer make healthcare or financial and legal decisions. Evidence may include expert witness testimony. There may also be testimony from family members and friends to describe the adult’s lack of ability to make decisions and put forth evidence regarding the capacity of the adult.
There will also be evidence to support that the petitioning guardian is the best person to serve on behalf of the ward. If the trial is successful, then a guardian of the person or the property may be appointed with the help of a Maryland guardianship lawyer.
Guardians of Property v. Guardian of Person
The process is similar for guardianship of the property and guardianship of the person. It may not be as inclusive for guardianship of a minor child. For example, there will be no need to prove incapacity. It may be a more streamlined process for guardianship of a minor child in Maryland.
Avoiding Court Appointment Process in Maryland
A guardianship is generally only granted if there are no less restrictive forms of intervention available. Having a medical power of attorney and a power of attorney for financial or legal matters often voids the necessity to have a guardian appointed on your behalf.
In addition, even if a guardianship is still required, a power of attorney or a medical power of attorney may appoint or nominate an individual that you choose to act as your guardian if you need one. For example, if you had a financial power of attorney, you might include language that recites that you choose your financial power of attorney to also act as your guardian in the event that you need one.
Effective estate planning can essentially avoid the very costly and timely necessity to have guardianship proceedings initiated. A Maryland guardianship attorney can help you keep your documents organized and up-to-date. They will be a valuable resource when presenting your case for guardianship in court before a judge.