A guardianship of the person generally makes healthcare decisions for a person whereas a guardian of a property makes financial and legal decisions for a person.
The distinction is sensible and it does make sense in practice. For example, someone may need assistance with their financial and legal decisions but remain able to make their healthcare decisions. The bifurcated process allows for a more tailored assistance plan based on the case facts and the individual’s needs. Someone who wishes to learn more about the differences between a guardian of person and a guardian of property should speak with a Maryland guardianship lawyer as soon as possible.
How a Guardian of Property is Appointed in Maryland
The process for becoming a guardian of property in Maryland can be a technical and arduous process. Generally, someone seeking a guardianship of property in Maryland would file a petition with the court. After the petition is filed, the petitioner would attend an initial hearing. If the proceeding is contested, the petitioner and his or her attorney will prepare for a trial. At trial, the petitioner often presents evidence to prove that the ward lacks requisite capacity to make financial or legal decisions for himself or herself, and that the petitioner is the best person to serve.
After the trial, if the court determines that the alleged incapacitated adult does lack the requisite capacity to make decisions for financial and legal matters and the guardian is the most apt to serve, then the petitioner may be appointed as guardian.
Eligibility Requirements for a Guardian of Property
A guardian of a property does not need to have specialized knowledge or experience regarding finances and assets. The standard of care is generally that a guardian would treat another’s assets in the same prudent way that he or she would when handling his or her own financial affairs. Specialized experience or knowledge of finances and assets may assist someone in qualifying along with the help of an experienced Maryland trusts lawyer.
Maryland Court’s Role in Appointment of Guardian of Property
During the hearing or the trial, a judge or the attorney for the alleged incapacitated adult may ask questions of the petitioner to elicit knowledge. Questions such as the guardian’s familiarity with the alleged incapacitated adult’s finances, whether he or she has ever files for bankruptcy, or anything else that may impede or interfere with the guardian’s ability to serve.
Finance and Property Duties
A guardian of a property in Maryland must be a fiduciary for the alleged incapacitated adult. The guardian has broad powers to handle and collect the ward’s assets. For example, they may collect Social Security on behalf of the ward. They might distribute income, invest, or manage the ward’s investments. They may also pay the ward’s bills and file the ward’s taxes.
A guardian must also provide an initial inventory of the location, amount, and nature of the ward’s assets as well as provide annual accountings that reflect all income and expenses for the accounting period. As part of the process, a guardian will also retitle the ward’s bank accounts to reflect the guardianship proceeding to facilitate managing all of the ward’s accounts on behalf of the ward for the ward’s benefits.