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When does a guardianship end?

If you or your loved one becomes incapacitated, Colorado courts can assign a legal guardian to make decisions regarding the ward's welfare, support, health, education and care. This person is typically someone appointed by the ward himself or herself, a spouse or an adult child.

The person in this role has numerous rights and duties, making it an important responsibility. Knowing how long this responsibility will last can help you plan accordingly, whether you are planning for your future needs or could be named as a guardian.

Grounds for guardianship termination

As stated in Colorado laws, guardianship ends under the following circumstances:

  • The ward passed away
  • The appointment of guardian was made in an invalid will
  • The ward no longer requires a guardian
  • A party successfully petitions the court for removal based on the best interests of the ward
  • The guardian resigns

After the guardianship terminates

A guardianship ending upon the death of the ward is typically not contentious. Similarly, there may be no issues if a ward is no longer incapacitated and there is no need for a guardian.

However, termination can trigger disputes. If someone believes the guardian is not acting in the ward's best interest and petitions the court to terminate the guardianship, there can be feelings of distrust and anger. Family dynamics can become or remain volatile.

If a guardian resigns, loved ones may be worried about who will take over. There may also be concerns regarding the grounds under which a guardian decided to resign. 

Avoiding contention

While it can be very difficult to prevent all drama and stress that may stem from termination of guardianship, there are a couple solutions that can help.

One option is to work with an attorney in matters of heated appointments. This can ensure people's rights are protected and the outcome is fair and legal.

Another solution is for people to address guardianship matters when planning for their future care. While you are healthy and of sound mind, you can appoint a guardian and successor guardian in your estate plan. You can also discuss with your loved ones who you chose and why. Being proactive and transparent can make guardianship matters less hostile and more predictable, which can give everyone some peace of mind.

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