Handling guardianship matters can be a difficult conversation to have, and it is only natural that you want to ensure that your loved ones are safe, secure, and taken care of when they no longer have the capacity to do this themselves. When facing guardianship issues, it is crucial that you have a reliable, experienced guardianship attorney in Idaho on hand to walk you through the process. The expert family law attorneys at either of our locations in Meridian or Boise, ID will be with you every step of the way to secure the best possible outcome for you and your family.
In order to better understand the process, it is important that we ascertain the proper meaning of “guardianship”. This is a process in which one individual is legally appointed the guardian of a second “protected person”. According to Idaho law, a guardian is defined as having "... the powers and responsibilities of a parent who has not been deprived of custody of his minor and unemancipated child."
Once appointed, the guardian will be permitted to make and control, any decisions in relation to the relationships, care, and residence of the protected person, with final say over a number of topics, including:
In short, a guardian will have almost total charge of the protected persons' daily life and wellbeing. Their suitability will be regularly checked, assessed, and reevaluated in order to ensure that the protected person is kept safe - checks will also be carried out to assess the capability of the protected person to make their own decisions, and the role of the guardian adjusted accordingly.
There are two main types of guardianship: an uncontested guardianship means that nobody is arguing against the process, while a contested guardianship means that a third party - usually a family member - is arguing against the process, and this often means that the guardianship will take much longer to resolve.
Guardianship over a loved one can be sought by any interested person, but family members are the most common choice. Idaho law states that a suitable guardian must be appointed by “acceptance of a testamentary appointment or by the court”, and this is to ensure the ongoing safety and security of both the guardian and the protected person.
In most cases, guardians will apply for the position when a loved one no longer possesses the ability to manage their own lives - for example, they are uncooperative to support and help, or they are making decisions that are a danger to themselves, or to those around them.
According to Idaho law, courts are permitted to appoint a guardian in situations involving unmarried minor children, if the parental rights of biological parents have been terminated, or in situations involving neglect, abuse, or abandonment - this is defined as a failure to care for a minor child for a minimum of six months. Courts will also be permitted to appoint a guardian if the biological parents of a child are deemed to be unfit to care for their child, whether this is mentally, emotionally, or financially.
The criteria for selecting a guardian do not allow age or disability to act as a barrier, provided that the potential guardian has the ability to properly care for the child in question. In situations where a named guardian has been mentioned in the will of a parent, guardians must officially accept the appointment within 30 days of the notice.
In addition, any individual seeking to become a guardian is also required to pass a course developed by the Idaho Supreme Court Guardianship/Conservatorship Committee. This takes place online and is designed to ensure that interested and prospective guardians have all of the information they need to assume the position, and the responsibilities that they will be expected to adhere to.
One of the key elements of guardianship in Idaho is the Child Protective Act, and this is essential in ensuring that courts are able to terminate guardianship if the guardian becomes unable to adequately care for the child, or if the child no longer requires a guardian.
A child will be deemed to no longer require a guardian once they turn 18. Guardianship requirements will also cease if the child dies, is adopted or placed with another guardian, returns to their biological parents, or gets married - any of these situations will result in the cessation of the guardianship order.
The Child Protective Act plays a key role in monitoring guardians, and offers an ongoing overview of the guardianship situation, ensuring that the best interests of the child are always prioritized.
There is often some confusion over the nature of a conservatorship compared to guardianship, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. In the simplest terms, a conservatorship is implemented in situations where an individual is deemed unable to manage their own financial affairs.
In these cases, an individual may file for an appointment with the court, in order to obtain a conservatorship over the finances of the vulnerable or incapacitated person - they do not have any right to make decisions regarding physical welfare or wellbeing. If approved, they will then need to regularly provide the court with accounting, in order to ensure that the funds and finances of the protected person are being managed properly.
In many cases, a conservatorship will be implemented at the same time as guardianship, but these positions may not automatically be held by the same person.
If you are considering guardianship, or simply require advice on the best journey for your family, it is important that you have clear, experienced guidance to help you make the right decision. Get in touch with our Meridian or Boise, ID guardianship attorney today, and see how we can help you protect those you love.