Duties of a Maryland Guardian
The guardian’s duties depend on the type of guardianship proceeding that has been initiated. Guardian of a person is the individual that is required to make healthcare, living and education decisions for the minor child. These may include providing food, clothing, housing and daily activities, such as taking a child to school or taking them to healthcare appointments. This would include ensuring that the ward has adequate food—whether that means arranging a program like Meals on Wheels or ensuring that groceries are being delivered. Also, the guardian would need to provide for social activity. This could involve acting as a companion or just checking in to ensure that the person is doing well. It involves arranging for the ward to be driven to medical appointments or driving the ward to medical appointments yourself. The duties are slightly different for a guardian of the property.
The guardian of the property is often responsible for paying for all of the services. The guardian of the property is usually responsible for using the ward’s funds to pay for medical bills, to pay for food, to pay for the companion care, to invest the ward’s assets, to pay the taxes of the ward, to prepare and file the income taxes of the ward, and, generally, to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of the ward rather than medical decisions. This involves record keeping of all expenses, including all of the child’s expenses, paying and providing for the child’s care, providing the funding for food, education, or clothing and also continued court reporting that reflect the expenditures that have been made. Ask a Maryland guardianship attorney if you are interested in becoming a guardian or want to know more about the duties related to becoming a guardian.
Deciding on the Issues Pertaining to the Ward or Incapacitated Person
In the best case scenario, the guardian and ward can discuss the wishes of the ward. The guardian can make decisions that are based on either the wishes of the ward or a previous pattern of decision making during the ward’s prior time of capacity. However, the guardian will make these decisions based on what’s in the best interest of the ward generally. Therefore, a Maryland guardian’s decisions may not always reflect the current will of the ward but it is something that is in the ward’s best interest.
If the minor has special needs or disabilities that certainly could result in an additional burden on the guardian. In some cases, the determination of whether a guardian is qualified or even able to meet those special needs will be issues that the judge reviews when determining the guardian.
A guardian is not bound to use previously established values, but certainly in situations where a guardian has been nominated by parents prior to death or prior to their own incapacity, it is possible that the guardian chooses to continue to raise the child the in values that were establish by his or her parents.
A guardian, without further instruction, or requirement, or limitations by the court, may not be obligated to adhere to religious or cultural restrictions. However, a guardian’s ability to adhere to their cultural religious restrictions may serve as an important factor on the court’s appointment of that guardian in the best interest of the child.
The best interest of the child is the standard that the court uses to review the guardian’s actions and the guardian should take the same approach. In cases where a guardian is not another parent, the parents will have a conversation about how they would wish their child to be raised in their absence, so that the guardian can continue to use that guidance throughout the term of raising the child.
Principles of How a Maryland Guardian Fulfills Duties
It depends on if someone is appointed guardian of the person or guardian of the property. A guardian of the person has a broad standard for fulfilling the needs of the ward—whether that is making healthcare decisions or providing for clothing, food, or entertainment. It is a pretty broad responsibility based on the individual needs of the ward.
For the guardian of the property, the standard is whether the guardian managed all of the ward’s financial and legal affairs in the same prudent way that the guardian would manage his or her own financial and legal affairs. This includes showing that all bills have been paid from the ward’s money and showing that investments are made or managed. To be clear, a guardian of the property should not comingle his personal funds with the funds of a ward.
A guardian of property makes sure that all funds due to the ward have been collected and deposited into the ward’s accounts. A guardian of the property must also file the income tax returns for the ward on the ward’s behalf, provide funding for food, clothing, social opportunities, and medical care based on the ward’s specific needs, and, of course, take into account the amount of the ward’s assets.
The actions of guardians are reviewed annually or semi annually by the court. If the court determines that a guardian is not fulfilling his or her duties, then the court may remove the guardian and seek the appointment of another guardian who would be in the best interest of the child.
An attorney can assist the guardian by advising him or her of his duties and fiduciary obligations. An attorney may also assist a guardian with the preparation of the required reports that are due to the court.