What is a Guardian

A guardian is an adult who is selected by a judge to make decisions for another person who needs help managing finances and making personal care decisions.  Guardians are usually appointed to care for adults but sometimes parents or other family members of a child with a severe disability are appointed guardian to take care of the child throughout the child’s lifetime.

Example:  Guardianship for an Older Adult

Sylvia, a 92-year-old widow with dementia caused by Alzheimer’s Disease, recently ended up in a nursing home after she broke her hip. Sylvia’s home, in which she lived until her accident, is in bad shape. Unfortunately she does not have the means to have it repaired—she will not be able to return there. But now that she feels better she wants to leave the nursing home.  Sylvia’s niece, who lives in Brooklyn, applied to the court to become guardian for her aunt. After she was appointed she made arrangements for Sylvia to move to an assisted living residence, where she will have her own room and will have much more freedom of movement than she has in the nursing home. Sylvia is delighted and looks forward to her new home.

 Example:  Guardianship for a Young Child

Owen, who is now 4-years-old, has severe brain damage as a result of lack of oxygen during his birth. His mental age is six months and he is not going to develop further. Recently, Owen got a large sum of money as a result of a lawsuit that was brought against the hospital where he was born. The money was placed in a special trust account that will provide for his needs as he grows older. Since Owen will never be able to care for himself, he needs someone else to take care of him and manage his money. Owen’s aunt, with whom he lives, applied for guardianship so that she will be able to make all personal care decisions for him, manage his money, and apply for the government benefits he may be eligible for.