You’ve probably seen or heard the term “guardian” before, perhaps on a form that required the signature of a “parent or guardian.” While we of course intuitively know what a parent is, how and why people become guardians of other people may not be so familiar. This is particularly the case when a guardianship is established for an adult.
Adult guardianships in Mississippi are established when someone becomes unable to take care of themselves and their affairs and another individual, usually but not always a loved one, takes legal as well as practical responsibility for their well-being. Whether it be for a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia or a spouse who is in a coma, guardianship can be a vital arrangement to ensure that the incapacitated individual’s care and finances are addressed in a responsible manner.
A guardianship is established by a court after a petition for an appointment of a guardian is filed by either the “incompetent person” (“incompetent” is the term used to describe those who lack the capacity to manage themselves and their affairs) or another person. The court will then make a determination as to whether a guardian should be appointed. That determination includes a requirement that the judge evaluate the putative ward in person: “in no instance shall the court have authority to appoint a guardian… unless it examines the applicant in person and finds after the examination that the applicant is incompetent to manage his or her estate.” MS Code § 93-13-121.
A related but distinct arrangement is what is known as “conservatorship.” While a guardian is legally responsible for the individual (called a “ward”) and his or her physical well-being and physical care, a conservatorship only gives the conservator control and responsibility over the ward’s money, property, and financial affairs. Upon petition by the individual or “one or more of his friends or relatives,” a court can appoint a conservator “if a person is incapable of managing his own estate by reason of advanced age, physical incapacity or mental weakness…” MS Code § 93-13-251.
Although the same person can – and frequently does – serve as both guardian and conservator, sometimes it is necessary and preferable to appoint separate people to oversee a ward’s funds and physical well-being. In many cases, attorneys also act as guardians and conservators.
In Mississippi, a competent adult can act affirmatively and designate a person of their choosing to act as their guardian in the event of their incapacity through executing a durable power of attorney as long as the durable power of attorney is properly drafted and signed.
Rushing & Guice, P.L.L.C: Biloxi Guardianship and Conservatorship Attorneys
When families need assistance in arranging for the care of loved ones who can no longer manage their own affairs, Rushing & Guice guides them through the process, establishing guardianships or conservatorships designed to protect their well-being and their property. Whatever the circumstances and unique needs of your family, we provide comprehensive and compassionate counsel that can give you and your loved ones security and peace of mind.
This article has been prepared by Rushing & Guice, P.L.L.C. for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.