Vulnerable adults can experience several obstacles as they get older. Helping them overcome these obstacles isn’t always easy, and sometimes we need outside parties to play a role.
Guardianships are one way to help a person manage their medical and personal care and financial affairs if they can no longer do so themselves.
What does a guardian do?
Depending on a ward’s needs, a guardian can be responsible for numerous matters, including:
- Reporting suspected abuse of the ward
- Filing reports with the court
- Making financial transactions on the ward’s behalf
- Retaining all supporting documentation for financial matters
- Managing medical decisions
- Creating and fulfilling a care plan
Failure to carry out these and other guardianship duties properly can have civil and criminal penalties, so guardians must take their role seriously.
It is important to note that guardianships are typically the last resort for vulnerable adults. Before seeking guardianship, parties should consider other avenues to help a person if their cognitive function or abilities start to decline.
Who will be the guardian?
In Colorado, the requirements to serve as a guardian include being at least 21 years old, passing a criminal background check and having their credit history reviewed. Often, concerned loved ones petition the courts to serve as guardians, meaning a trusted family member is typically in this role.
However, the courts could also appoint outside parties if there are no suitable candidates close to the ward. Professional guardians have some restrictions on their roles that unpaid guardians do not.
A guardian typically resides in the same state as the ward, but residency in Colorado is not required.
What if there are disputes?
Considering the sensitive nature of the decisions guardians may have to make, disputes can arise. Family members can disagree on what is best for the ward’s personal or financial well-being; concerned loved ones may feel a professional guardian is not fulfilling their duties.
Whatever the reason for a dispute may be, parties would be wise to consult an attorney as soon as possible. Doing so can call attention to potential misconduct or failures and resolve guardianship conflicts before they get any worse.