Someone may want to become a guardian in Maryland because they know a family member or a friend who is lacking the ability to make financial, legal, or healthcare decisions on their own. They are interested in looking out for the best interests of their loved one and wants to help them take on their responsibilities. If such is the case, they would benefit from finding an experienced Maryland trusts and estates lawyer to discuss their options and what their next steps should be.
Obtaining Guardianship in Maryland
The guardianship application process can be complex. Because a guardianship procedure significantly limits an individuals rights, courts take the process very seriously. It can also be costly and time-consuming. For the guardianship of adults in Maryland, it requires petitioning the court to be appointed as either guardian of the person or guardian of the property, or both. The petitioner provides physician certificates to describe the alleged incapacity. The adult lacking capacity, called the ward, is appointed a lawyer. The ward’s lawyer meets with the adult to determine whether the ward consents to the guardianship or objects to the guardianship. If the ward, or another interested person, contests the guardianship, then a trial will be scheduled to determine whether the ward lacks capacity and whether the petitioner is the best individual to serve.
It can take a few months to complete and often requires continued court supervision after appointment. When you’re petitioning for the guardianship of a minor, you don’t need to prove incapacity but other parts of the petitioning process are similar. Similarly, petitioning for the guardianship of a minor can also be a very long and complicated process. Throughout this process, there are many factors to consider and documents to draft — hiring a Maryland guardianship lawyer will lessen that burden.
Difficulties in the Process
It depends on the type of the guardianship that you’re requesting. Maryland courts will take guardianship of minors very seriously to determine if the petitioning individual is the best person to serve as guardian of the child. For guardianships for incapacitated adults, judges take very seriously their intervention to restrict an adult’s ability to make his or her own decisions for financial, legal and health care matters.
If all interested persons, including the alleged incapacitated adult, agree to the guardianship, the process can be easier. However, in the event of a contested guardianship, it may be difficult to obtain a court’s order appointing a guardian of either the person or the property. Should there be a contested guardianship, having a knowledgeable trusts attorney in Maryland by your side will help clarify some of the questions and/or concerns.
Filing a Petition & Court Hearings
Prior to a Maryland court hearing, a guardianship is initiated by filing a petition that contains all of the particulars of a case such as the name, address, age, and phone number of the alleged incapacitated adult, and the name, address, phone number, and relationship of the petitioner to the ward. It also includes a brief description of the disability or lack of capacity of the alleged incapacitated adult, and any nomination of a guardian by the alleged incapacitated adult prior to the initiation of the pleading. The pleading will also include the names and addresses of all the interested persons of the case, which are usually synonymous with the potential heirs of the alleged incapacitated adult.
The petition also includes the attachment of physician’s certificates. It is typically necessary for a physician to conduct a proper examination of the alleged incapacitated adult. That information is attached along with the pleadings.
The initial court hearing is usually to appoint an attorney for the alleged incapacitated adult, to understand the emergent nature of the petition, and to make any initial findings of whether the filing requirements have been met so that the petition can proceed. In the event that the guardianship is uncontested, it may be possible that the court to appoint a guardian in the initial hearing.
How a Maryland Guardianship Attorney Can Help
There are many benefits to hiring a lawyer to help you through your guardianship case. A Maryland trusts and estates attorney can assist you with preparing the petition and attachments to begin the court process of having you appointed as guardian. The attorney will then continue to represent you through the hearings and the trial if required by gathering evidence, helping you to hire expert witnesses, and preparing for those court proceedings.
After you are appointed, a trusts and estates attorney in Maryland can assist you by advising you regarding your responsibilities as guardian—whether you’re appointed guardian of the person or guardian of the property. If you are appointed guardian of the property, the attorney can continue to assist you by helping you to prepare an inventory of the assets and the annual accountings required by the court.