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When adults need guardians

When older loved ones can no longer make decisions for themselves, you might have to step up to the plate and do so for them. As some people grow older, they experience memory loss, which could make decision-making difficult for them. Some forms of disability or injury could also increase the likelihood of some adults needing guardians.

Getting the court to appoint you as a guardian could be time-consuming and potentially costly. If you are already the power of attorney for your loved one, you could already be in a position to help. The Ontario Health Care Consent Act stipulates when relatives can make certain decisions for their incapacitated loved ones.

Appointing a guardian

If no power of attorney exists and if you need to get a guardianship order, legislation in your province will tell you how. A lawyer would also be able to offer advice. If you live in Ontario, you could apply to the court to become a guardian. You might qualify to be the property or personal care guardian for anyone actually. Guardianship can apply to friends as well as to family members.

When you're applying to become a guardian, there are a couple things you should do:

  • Fill out a form called a detailed management plan for the property or personal care of the person for whom you are applying to become guardian
  • Serve the application to the government law office, the Public Guardian and Trustee, representing the interests of those who are incapable

What a guardian can do

As a guardian, you will be able to do all the things your loved one normally would have done. Such things may include:

  • Paying bills
  • Making decisions regarding health care
  • Taking care of all banking
  • Keeping any property in order

If you're a personal care guardian, you will be able to make decisions regarding health care, living arrangements, hygiene and nutrition.

What a guardian can't do

Unless there is court approval, as a guardian you can't make a will for the person you're looking after or get rid of property that is earmarked for a gift in the person's will. As a guardian, you'll also have to consult with others when making some decisions just to make sure you're acting in the best interests of your incapacitated loved one.

Guardianship issues can be complex. A lawyer with experience in guardianships and estate planning law would be able to answer all your queries and may be able to offer legal advice and provide guidance in the guardianship application process.

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