Minor Guardianships

Parents traditionally make any and all legal decisions about their child’s welfare. In some cases, however, a child may require a separate person to make decisions because they have inherited assets or perhaps their parents are incapable or unqualified to make legal decisions. In these cases, a guardian may be chosen by family or court-appointed to protect the person—known as a ward—who cannot make those decisions on their own.

What are a guardian's responsibilities?

The guardian attends to the direct physical well-being of the minor and their assets. In addition, they provide a legal residence so the ward may attend a public school, apply for public benefits if necessary, apply for public housing where necessary, and bring lawsuits on their behalf.

While guardians do receive and maintain money for the care of the minor, they're required to maintain and preserve any excess funds beyond what's necessary to support the child. Guardians are also responsible for a minor's personal property and education. Finally, they are required to authorize any necessary medical care.

A good rule of thumb is that guardians provide whatever care a parent would usually give to their child.

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How are guardians chosen?

Guardians should always be chosen with the child's best interests in mind. Courts will usually prefer it if the guardian has some kind of connection with the ward, including:

  • being chosen by the ward
  • a parent or other relative
  • a private person or state employee familiar with them

If the child's parents are still alive, they must be deemed unable or unfit to look after their child's interests before a guardian may be appointed. If adoption is not viable at this point, guardianship may be a suitable alternative. Many states allow for children who are fourteen years old or older to select or voice their preference over who will be their guardian.

When does guardianship end?

That depends. If it's due to age, then guardianship may be terminated once the minor reaches that state's age of majority. This isn't always the case, however. If the court finds the ward still requires supervision, it may be reinstated. If the ward dies, guardianship is automatically terminated. If the ward gets married, the guardianship may be terminated.

Of course, guardianship may also be terminated if the current guardian fails to meet their duties. In these cases, a new guardian will be appointed.

Minor Guardianship Attorney in Jefferson City, MO

If you have questions about minor guardianship and how it could be in the best interests of your child, you need to reach out to a dedicated legal advocate. With over 35 years of combined experience, we understand how the process works and can help make the process of becoming a legal guardian as positive as possible for the sake of the children involved.