Guardianships and Conservatorships Lawyers in Alabama
If a loved one or close family friend can no longer care for him or herself and has no plan in place, you may petition the probate court to be appointed as a guardian and/or conservator. Sometimes, the same person may serve as both a guardian and conservator. A guardian takes care of the welfare of the individual, and a conservator is a person who is appointed by the court to manage an incapacitated person’s estate.
There are certain laws and guidelines that the court must follow when appointing someone a guardian or conservator, however these are things that an experienced attorney at Dothan Law Group can help you understand and navigate when going over your options.
In Alabama, a guardian is a person who has been appointed by the Probate Court to manage and handle the personal welfare decisions, health care decisions, and lifestyle decisions for an incapacitated person or minor. Deciding to become a legal guardian is a serious step, and our attorneys at Dothan Law Group are ready to help you understand the various complexities and duties that you will assume as a guardian.
Guardianship for a Minor Child
The parent of a minor or someone who has been appointed by the court to be responsible for the personal care of an individual is considered a guardian. A legal guardian also has the ability to make decisions regarding the well-being of the minor in question. The court may appoint any person who will be in the best interest of the minor. However, if the minor is 14 years old or older, the minor’s nominee must be appointed unless the appointment is contrary to the minor’s best interest.
Types of Guardians
Not every child requires permanent or full guardianship. There are several types of guardianship with varying degrees of authority:
- General Guardian: A court-appointed guardian who assumes the responsibility of a child and their property.
- Special Guardian: A person granted immediate yet temporary guardianship in emergency situations for a period of 30 days. A special guardian may work with the court to become a general guardian.
- Limited Guardian: A legal guardian with limited authority over the child and their property.
Responsibilities of a Legal Guardian
Being a guardian of a child is a tremendous responsibility. That is why courts have outlined the responsibilities that a legal guardian must be able to fulfill to take custody of a child. A few responsibilities of a guardian include:
- Provide adequate shelter, food, and other basic necessities
- Ensure the child has medical care
- Fulfill the child’s education and special needs
- Ensure the child is properly cared for
- Know the basic needs and wants of the child
Guardianship for an Incapacitated Adult
The laws of Alabama allow any qualified person to be appointed as the guardian over an adult who has been declared incapacitated. The following are persons who are entitled to consideration for appointment under The Code of Alabama, §26–2A–104:
- A spouse of the incapacitated person,
- An adult child of the incapacitated person,
- A parent of the incapacitated person,
- Any relative of the incapacitated person, and
- A person nominated by the person who is caring for or paying for the care of the incapacitated person.
A conservator is a person appointed by the court to administer the property of a minor or incapacitated person. The conservator must be bonded, must act under the supervision of the Court, and must file accountings with the Court. Incapacitated persons are unable to manage property and/or their business affairs due to any of the following:
- Mental Illness
- Mental Deficiency
- Chronic Use of Drugs and/or Intoxication
- Physical Illness
Types of Conservatorship
A conservator has a duty to arrange for services to meet the ward’s daily needs, such as: health care, meals, clothing, personal care, transportation, recreation, and housekeeping. A family member or any interested person with the priorities as follows:
- Conservator appointed in another jurisdiction
- Person selected by incapacitated person
- Person designated by incapacitated person’s power of attorney
- Adult child
- Relative with whom ward has lived last six months
- Nominee of person caring for incapacitated person
- General guardian or sheriff
Responsibilities of Conservatorship
Having the right to control the estate or property transfers the following responsibilities to the conservator:
- Organizing, gathering and protecting assets
- Arranging appraisals of property
- Safeguarding property and assets from loss, whenever possible
- Managing income from assets
- Making appropriate payments
- Obtaining court approval prior to any sale of major assets
- Reporting to the court the estate’s status on a regular basis
The conservator uses the ward’s finances to pay the bills, including medical and personal bills. They also make sure income taxes are filed and paid as needed. It can be overwhelming to manage all of the duties and responsibilities of conservatorship. Our attorneys at Dothan Law Group understand the commitment that is involved in this role and can support you for the long-term so you can perform your duties to the best of your ability.
Legal Guidance from Dothan Law Group
If you would like to establish a guardianship or conservatorship for a loved one, our Dothan Law Group attorneys are a skilled legal team who can help you through the process. Our experienced legal team can help with guardianship and conservatorship proceedings in the least stressful and most time-efficient manner for the family involved.