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How to Terminate Guardianship

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What Is Guardianship?

Guardianship allows a person to legally assume the responsibility of caring for another person. In many cases, this is an adult assuming legal control over a minor. However, it can also involve one adult taking care of another adult, such as taking care of an incapacitated adult. The person assuming legal responsibility is called the “guardian”, while the other person is named the “ward”. Guardianship is generally approved and supervised by court authority.

How Does Guardianship Terminate?

Most guardianship arrangements are temporary guardianship cases. This means that the guardian assumes legal responsibility only for a limited amount of time, which is defined by court order. The court may identify various circumstances in which guardianship may terminate, including:

  • The ward reaches the age of majority, usually 18 years of age
  • Another party has filed a request that the guardianship arrangement be terminated
  • The ward has regained mental/physical/legal capacity to care for themselves
  • The ward has become deceased
  • The guardian wishes to voluntarily surrender guardianship rights to another person

In most cases, it is necessary for a formal petition to be filed with the court in order for the termination process to be initiated. That is, in many cases, guardianship may not be terminated unless someone takes action.

In some cases, guardianship may terminate automatically after certain conditions have been fulfilled. For instance, in an emergency guardianship where a person has become incapacitated, the guardianship may terminate when the person regains their mental and legal capacity. However, even in cases of automatic termination, there may need to be some interaction with the courts to ensure that the guardianship papers are adjusted accordingly.

What Are Some Tips on How to Terminate Guardianship?

In cases where guardianship is being contested, it may be a bit more difficult to have the guardianship terminated. Under such circumstances, it is usually necessary to show that the current guardian is somehow unfit to continue acting as the guardian. This may require evidence and documentation that the guardian has:

  • Engaged in some sort of violation of their guardianship rights, such as using the ward’s funds for personal use, or has abused the ward physically or mentally
  • Is no longer fit themselves to act as a guardian, such as if they have become incapacitated or have developed substance abuse dependency
  • Demonstrated any other factors that would disqualify them for guardianship

Here, it may be necessary to seek legal assistance when proving these types of factors. In severe cases, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit for damages caused by any guardian violations.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Guardianship Issues?

Guardianship arrangements can sometimes involve some very complex legal issues. You may wish to hire a family law attorney in your area if you need help with any type of guardianship concerns. Your attorney can help review court documents to understand what your rights are in the situation. Also, if you need to terminate guardianship for whatever reason, your lawyer can help you file a petition with the court to get the process started.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 01-19-2015 09:59 AM PST

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