RESOURCES - LEGAL SERVICES
DUTIES, RESPONSIBILITIES, and RIGHTS
If the judge grants the Petition of Guardianship, he/she will make specific findings based on sound evidence presented at the hearing. The specific details of the guardianship depend on what the judge decided is in your best interest. The more help that the judge decided you need, the more power the guardian will be given over you, over your finances, or over both.
Guardianships can be full (plenary) or partial. Guardianships can also be given over you (guardianship over the person), over your financial matters (guardianship over the estate) or over both you and your finances.
A full guardian will be appointed if the judge decides that you can’t manage any important parts of your life without help. If the judge finds that you only need some help, a partial guardian will be appointed.
Generally, a guardian of the person has the responsibility to make reasonable efforts to make sure that you have appropriate housing, as well as the medical, educational, employment and other services that will help you to achieve maximum independence.
A full guardian has nearly full control over you (but you can still vote). A partial guardian has control over some aspects of your life, and these responsibilities will be carefully spelled out in the Letters of Guardianship that the court issues after the hearing. You keep any rights not included in that court order. If there is a dispute with your guardian over some area not covered by the Letters of Authority, your decision controls.
All guardians must report to the court at least once a year, providing information about their management of your person, your estate or both, depending on the responsibilities that they have been given.
Guardians have the responsibility and legal obligation to act in your best interests. They must safeguard your money or property with the highest standard of care. Guardians also have the responsibility to always consider what you want, in an area in which they’ve been given authority, though they don’t have to do it. Guardians may not provide paid services to you.
Your rights as a “Ward”
If the judge decides that you need a guardian, you will legally considered to be a “ward.” You will receive written information about your rights, and information the procedures that must be followed in order to request that the guardianship be changed (modified) or ended (terminated).
You, the guardian, or any interested person can ask the judge to change, or end, the guardianship if there is a good reason. You can just call the court or write an informal letter, and then the judge will appoint someone to act on your behalf, and represent you at the hearing. At any guardianship hearing, you have several important rights, which will be explained to you, including the right to have a lawyer represent you.
Guardianships in Michigan expire after at most 5 years. At this time, you get all of your authority back unless there is another hearing and the guardianship is renewed.