Guardianships (or Conservatorships in other jurisdictions) typically are established for people to manage the affairs of those who can no longer make their own financial, personal, or medical decisions. Guardianship may become necessary when an individual, due to disability or health circumstances such as advanced Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, coma, brain damage or other serious injury, is unable to manage his or her own affairs.
If the need for Guardianship arises, the court will initially need to make the determination of whether the individual is incapacitated (previously, incompetent), by reviewing evidence about the individual’s medical conditions, treatment, prognosis and functional limitations. Very often, depositions and testimony of medical professionals are submitted to the court as evidence in such a proceeding.
In Pennsylvania, an incapacitated person is an adult whose ability to receive and evaluate information effectively and communicate decisions in any way is impaired to such a significant extent that he or she is partially or totally unable to manage his financial resources or to meet essential requirements for his or her physical health and safety. 20 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 5501.
Once the court makes a determination as to incapacity, the court will select a qualified individual, corporate fiduciary, non-profit corporation, or county agency to serve as a guardian. In appropriate circumstances, the court will give preference to the desires of the incapacitated person.
The court may appoint a Guardian for financial matters (Guardian of the Estate) or health matters (Guardian of the Person). In many cases it would be both. After appointment, the Guardian is required to keep detailed records and make an annual report to the court.
The team at The Elder Law Office of Olimpi & Kramer, LLC has extensive experience in assisting families in setting up an appropriate guardianship for an individual who does not have the mental capacity or physical ability to make decisions or care for oneself.
To learn more about Guardianships, please contact us at (724) 888-2830