Securing Guardianship of a Vulnerable Adult
Too many elderly and otherwise vulnerable adults are prey to unscrupulous pariahs who seek to abuse or exploit them. Maryland courts are determined to protect these vulnerable adults and elderly Marylanders. Rules related to guardians, guardianships, and lawyers are designed to protect those who are unable to manage their own finances or who cannot ably make personal decisions due to age, disabilities, or disease.
A number of changes to the rules regarding court-ordered guardianship have taken place in recent years, including:
- Physicians, licensed social workers, and/or psychologists must meet new certification requirements;
- Attorneys must have met training requirements in order to be eligible to represent those involved in guardianship proceedings;
- Those who seek guardianship over another individual must undergo specific training modules.
Becoming a Guardian
When the court determines that a person has limited capacity, an interested party may petition for guardianship. That party may be a spouse, parent, sibling, or child of the person in question, or another person, agency, or institution. To be awarded guardianship, a petition must be filed describing the disabling condition and its effects on the person, and explaining why a guardian is needed. Two health care professionals must certify that they have examined the individual and have found that person to be disabled. The disabled person or legal representative, as well as any others with an interest in the matter, will then have a period of time to respond to the petition. The court will appoint an attorney to represent the person in question, and a pre-hearing statement will be issued. There, matters related to whether or how the vulnerable adult will be able to participate in the proceedings, whether or not less extreme solutions are available for that person, and decisions related to expert testimony will be decided, among others. Sometimes housing or medication changes are a better solution for these adults. Other times issues related to the petitioner may be weighed. The case will be investigated, and the court will ultimately make a decision in the best interests of the vulnerable adult.
Interested Persons Dissent
In many cases, there is no question as to whether or not guardianship is appropriate. However, in some situations there is disagreement as to who the best guardian might be. Interested persons have a legal right to object to the appointment of a particular Petitioner, and to put forth evidence suggesting that harm may come to the vulnerable adult in the event such an appointment is made. The guardianship proceedings, in such contested cases, may become somewhat animated.
Advocating for You
If you are seeking guardianship of a vulnerable adult, having a skilled Baltimore family attorney at bat for you can make the process much more simple and efficient. Contact the Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes today to schedule a confidential consultation.