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Guardianship: When a loved one needs help

If someone you love is slipping away, you may be forced to make some difficult decisions. Whether it is because of aging, illness, an accident or addiction, it is never easy to watch a family member lose the ability to care for him or herself. However, to ensure for the security and well-being of your loved one, you may decide to step in and take responsibility.

Beyond cooking and cleaning for your family member, handling certain matters requires that you file for guardianship. If you are successful in being appointed as a guardian over your loved one, you may wonder what that means.

What are my duties as a guardian?

If you are a court-appointed guardian, Maryland courts now consider your loved one to be your "ward." As a guardian, some of your duties include making sure that your loved one's bills are paid and taxes filed. You must also make decisions about where your loved one lives and who is in charge of his or her basic care.

Depending on the circumstances, your duties may also include any of the following:

  • Deciding what to do with your ward's liquid assets
  • Selling your ward's vehicle or purchasing one to better suit his or her needs
  • Selling or managing personal or real property your ward owns
  • Making decisions about your ward's medical care

To carryout some of these duties, you may required to obtain approval from the court. Additionally, on an annual basis, you will be required to submit a report to the court detailing specifics related to your loved one's health and finances and outlining the actions you took with regard to both. Your report must also include a plan for your loved one's financial, personal and medical care for the coming year.

Where can I find help with my duties?

If your loved one is no longer able to make reasonable decisions concerning his or her well-being, and you have assumed guardianship, your responsibilities will be numerous and serious. There may be times when you aren't sure what you should do. Having a legal advocate to consult for advice and guidance will allow you to make informed decisions within the scope of your duties.

Your attorney will help you through the application process and help you navigate the annual report that you are required to provide the court. Having knowledgeable support from a compassionate attorney will allow you to provide the care and assistance your loved one needs during this challenging time.

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