If you have ever filled out any sort of permission slip or legal documentation, you’ll be well familiar with the phrase “parent or guardian” in terms of a relationship with a minor child. However, there is much more to the process of becoming a guardian for another person than meets the eye. It is an involved responsibility and commitment, and should not be taken lightly even for those who have a close relationship with the child or disabled adult already in place. Here are some of the different types of guardianship, and what you need to know about becoming one.

Guardians for a Minor Child:  This is the most common type of guardianship, as children are frequently unable to be cared for by their biological or legal parents, who by default have the full legal power and responsibility over their children. In cases of a parent’s death, severe illness, or long-term incarceration, there may be an outside guardian appointed. If the parent is able to give the name of a person they would like to take that responsibility, their wishes will be very highly considered by the court, and only denied if that individual is unwilling or unable to take on the responsibility of caring for the children.

Guardians for a Disabled Adult: While quite common, having a guardian for an individual over the age of 18 is less understood than those caring for young people. They can be equally subject to guardianship laws in Pennsylvania when the person who is disabled does not have the ability to care for themselves and make day to day personal decisions. The guardian has the responsibility to make decisions about this person’s life on a regular basis, with relatively few limitations. Some of the areas where a guardian cannot intervene into this person’s wishes include the ability to consent or prohibit a divorce or marriage, or the agreement to undergo medical procedures which are still considered experimental.

Guardians for an Estate: This comes into play often with elderly individuals, who have the capability to make most personal decisions, but not necessarily large financial ones, and have been negatively affected by dementia or other related diseases. These can be appointed throughout a person’s life, especially with advanced age, and are not required to have been considered disabled earlier in life for this position to happen.

Limited Guardianship:  This is a specific type of guardianship under Pennsylvania law that involves making some decisions but not others for a disabled person. This can vary widely based on the capabilities and responsibilities of the person in question and the duties and powers of the guardian in each specific case will be laid out clearly in the court documents.

If you are looking to take on this type of responsibility for a child or disabled adult in Pennsylvania or need other similar counsel to family-related law, it’s essential to have an experienced attorney on your side. For a free consultation about our services, call us at Sebald, Hackwelder, & Knox today at 814-833-1987 to begin talking about your case and learning what we can do to help.