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An overview of legal guardianships

Cities like Bellevue, Washington, enjoy vibrant business growth. Major technology-dependent companies there include Microsoft, Boeing and more. Worldwide companies send businesspeople from Bellevue all the world. Travel is a way of life.

Often, travel can take valued employees away for weeks at a time. People who may suddenly become unavailable, or who do not have the legal authority to make necessary decisions, take care of their aging parents or children while they work.  

Types and functions of legal guardians

Legal guardianship is a court-established system by which the court names one adult--deemed appropriately capable by the court--as guardian to care for another person. The person who benefits from legal guardianship, also called a ward, is most often a child, an incapacitated adult or a person who has health problems requiring specialized care. Many types of guardianships fall under this umbrella. 

Each of the following legal guardianship types fulfills a particular need:

  • Emergency guardianship: This is a level of custody activated for emergency assistance when a ward encounters an accident, severe illness requiring EMT or hospital care, or an area-wide catastrophe occurs such as fire, earthquake or flood. A temporary guardian can also provide authorization for emergency care.
  • Temporary guardianship: This type of guardianship exists for a designated interval of time and a specific reason. The guardian acts for a minor or incapacitated adult during a period when the usual caretaker is on extended leave. Some service providers, such as medical or school personnel, will need this type of legal authorization to perform functions for the ward.
  • Adult guardianship: A guardian advocate has partial control and performs services such as paying bills, monitoring bank accounts and performing grocery purchases. A guardian of estate or property involves paying taxes or managing property investments. Other types of guardians handle advance directives or act as sole manager of the ward's financial, property and medical needs.

For the guardian relationship to succeed, the professional needs to set up parameters with an expert in establishing a legal duty of care through the court system.

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