When I speak with people about guardianship it is very rare that my audience or client comes into the discussion with a clear understanding of what guardianship is. In fact, most people don’t realize some of the most key aspects of guardianship. With that in mind, I put together a list of 5 things you should know about guardianship in Georgia.
In Georgia, guardianship is the process by which a person seeks appointment through the court as official legal representative of another person. Once a guardian is appointed for someone then that person’s legal right to make their own decisions has been removed. In Georgia, before a court will appoint a guardian it must be shown that the individual for whom the guardianship is sought lacks the capacity to make significant, responsible decisions concerning their health or safety. In addition, it must be shown that the appointment of the guardian is in the best interest of the individual.
5 Things You Should Know About Guardianship in Georgia
1. The entire guardianship process begins by filing a Petition for Appointment of Guardian/Conservator with the appropriate probate court. There are many procedural steps after the Petition is filed and the process will typically conclude with a hearing in front of the Probate Judge.
2. The individual for whom guardianship is sought will be formally served with the Petition and is required to be represented by an attorney. If you seek guardianship for a family member they are going to formally served with the Petition, often by a Sheriff’s Deputy. It is a legal requirement that they be represented by an attorney. If they do not hire one then the court will appoint an attorney represent them.
3. Guardianship proceedings are “adversarial” and relatively time-consuming. Guardianship proceedings are adversarial, meaning that if you seek guardianship for another you are asking the court to take that person’s rights away and they have a right to prove to the court that they are still competent and not in need of a guardianship. This entire process, from filing the initial petition to appointment of guardian, typically takes 5-8 weeks.
4. Guardianship proceedings are quite likely to be contested. People generally don’t like to have their rights taken away. The proposed ward can contest a guardianship by arguing that they are competent and do not need a guardian. A guardianship proceeding can also be contested between potential guardians.
5. A competent, experienced guardianship attorney can minimize the stress and expense for you. You do not have to be represented by an attorney when presenting a guardianship petition. However, our experience can be beneficial in a number of way. First, we can give you a realistic expectations of the outcome from the start. Second, our knowledge and experience will greatly improve your chances of achieving the outcome you seek, particularly in a contested guardianship. Third, we can also very likely help you achieve the outcome that you want more efficiently with less wasted time and energy
Legal Disclaimer: This information has been provided for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice. Proper legal advice can only be given based upon the specific facts and relevant law for each individual. Therefore, you should always seek appropriate counsel before acting upon the information contained herein.