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When is state guardianship necessary?

Georgia's Public Guardianship Office, part of the state Division of Aging Services, manages guardianship for Georgians who the probate court has determined can't communicate their wishes or can't take care of themselves and don't have a willing or suitable person to take care of them.

The Public Guardianship Office act as advocates for those people as well as coordinate and monitor their care, education, health and welfare.

A simple version of the guardianship process

The process starts when someone is concerned that an adult needs care and has no one to deliver that care. That person files a petition with the probate court which then orders an evaluation. A hearing is scheduled and testimony heard, and then the court decides if guardianship is necessary. If so, the court then decides who will act as guardian.

In some cases, a person will have a living will that names a guardian. In other cases, family, friends or people who care about the person can become guardians. If no one is appropriate, the state can step in to be the person's guardian.

What a guardian does

The court also defines the duties of the guardian, which can include being able to:

  • Understand the capacities and limitations of the adult
  • Take care of the adult's personal effects
  • Arrange for support, education and health of the adult
  • File reports to the court about the adult
  • Ask the court to appoint a conservator to take care of the adult's property or income
  • Work with the conservator to make sure the adult's needs are met

Under some circumstances, the guardian can also determine where the person will live, get medical care and stand in for the adult in legal matters.

The guardian cannot make the adult stop taking drugs or using alcohol. The guardian cannot limit who the adult talks with or where the adult goes.

It is difficult when a formerly competent person finds themselves in need of a guardian. If someone you love needs a guardian, or you want to name a guardian in a living will, be sure to get the advice of a qualified legal professional.

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