If you are thinking about seeking guardianship for a loved one in Pennsylvania, it is often an emotionally fraught situation. Sadly, minor children may need legal guardians because their biological parents have passed away suddenly or they are unable to care for them. Accidents and illnesses often lead previously capable adults—who never thought to put a power of attorney (POA) designation in place previously—needing someone else to handle their affairs.
Are you looking to become a guardian for a minor child who needs someone to assume duties of a natural parent, or do you have an adult family member who is no longer capable of managing their own affairs and who did not create a power of attorney? You will likely need professional, caring guidance to help you sort through the details and help you face your hearing in Orphans’ Court.
There is no reason you should attempt to handle guardianship concerns—under any circumstances—without guidance from an experienced guardianship attorney. Today’s blog post highlights three of the biggest reasons why.
Guardianship Attorneys Can Help You Determine Your Best Path Forward
Did you know that guardianship or conservatorship may not always be the best option for your family or your unique situation? Family and elder law issues leading you to consider guardianship can be extremely complicated. And, depending on the reasons you’re considering guardianship, you may have alternative options to petitioning the court to become a legal guardian.
When you hire an experienced guardianship attorney, we’ll help you weigh other available legal processes that may be a better fit. These might include establishing a trust or designating a POA instead of going through the court to establish protection for a minor child or an incapacitated family member who requires someone else to make decisions on their behalf.
Let us help you!
Obtaining Guardianship Requires a Court Process: You Shouldn’t Handle That Alone
As we’ve touched on, becoming a legal guardian for a ward of any age requires you to file a petition with Orphan’s Court here in Lancaster County, PA. In your petition, you will be required to fully explain all of the reasons you are seeking guardianship. Note that in Pennsylvania, there is no limit on the number of individuals who can be co-guardians of someone else, so you will also need to take that into consideration as you prepare your petition.
Filing your petition will involve scheduling a hearing before a judge to present evidence to prove that your adult loved one is indeed incapacitated or that a minor child absolutely requires a guardian. These hearings can be intimidating for individuals who are unused to appearing in court, and there’s really no reason why you should attempt to go through your hearing without professional legal support. After all, you may potentially have other parties—including family members—appearing to object to your petition, and these situations are incredibly challenging emotionally and in terms of knowing what you should do.
Ongoing Guardianship Responsibilities Can Be Complex: Experienced Attorneys Can Guide You
Once you have successfully gained guardianship/conservatorship, there are ongoing responsibilities you need to be aware of. You’ll have to handle your ward’s everyday affairs, file annual reports and make sure you fully understand the tax matters related to your role, all of which are required in a fiduciary relationship. This can be a lot to take on, and many guardians do not have the experience handling all the necessary paperwork and guardianship decision-making on their own.
Faced with these challenges, you should continue to lean on your trusted guardianship attorney even after initial petitions and hearings are behind you. We’re here to support you through the entire guardianship journey over the long haul.