An adult guardianship may be necessary when someone cannot take care of their physical being, their property or both, and there is no other document that exists to give another person authority to take control (a power of attorney for example). This is a court-involved, two-step process. First, a medical panel is appointed to have an individual declared incapacitated, followed by a recommendation of which rights should be removed, whether it’s some or all. Once declared incapacitated, a suitable guardian must be appointed.
These are expensive proceedings and should not be approached lightly. Furthermore, once established, a guardianship lasts for the life of the incapacitated person, or unless rights can be restored. Guardianships can be established on an emergency basis as well on an expedited basis.
Minor guardianships might also sometimes be necessary, typically when a child receives more than $15,000 for any reason: settlement, inheritance, etc.
Regardless of the type of guardianship, having the proper estate planning documents in place can avoid the need for one most of the time.