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What Does a Guardian of the Person Do?

A guardian for personal needs is appointed is to make sure that the ward is comfortable and well taken care of. The extent to which the guardian can be involved in the life of the ward will depend on the powers granted by the court. The most important personal needs powers are listed below:

Basic Personal Needs Powers – there is a set of personal needs powers are given to most guardians. They are the powers to:

  • determine who will provide personal care or assistance
  • choose place of abode
  • make decisions regarding social environment and other social aspects of the life of the ward
  • determine whether the incapacitated person should possess a license to drive.
  • determine whether the incapacitated person should travel, and make travel arrangements if necessary.

Nursing Home Placement – if a guardian feels that the ward is no longer able to stay in the home, and would benefit from the round the clock care of a nursing home, the guardian may place the ward in a nursing home, with court approval.

Apply for Government Benefits – a ward may need help in applying for Medicaid, SSI, Medicare, and other government benefits. A ward may also need help in recertifying for those benefits.

Make Education Decisions – this applies more to younger wards, and includes the power to enroll the ward in a suitable special education program.

Protect the Ward from Fraud – once appointed, the guardian can take measures to protect the ward from fraud. A guardian can ask the court to freeze the ward’s bank accounts to prevent theft, or if someone already stole from the ward, to order individuals to return the stolen property.

Protect the Ward from Abuse – the guardian can assess the ward’s life circumstances to determine whether the ward is being abused, and take the ward out of a dangerous environment. The guardian may even ask the court to issue an order of protection against an individual who is suspected of abusing the ward.

Even before becoming a guardian, one should contact the police if it is suspected that the ward is a victim of a crime.