A Comprehensive Guide to Guardianship in GA


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Navigating Guardianship in GA

Guardianship may be the right step to consider if your loved one is unable to take care of themselves and their own affairs.

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Author: Stan Faulkner, Founder, Perigon Legal Services, LLC

Mr. Faulkner is an experienced counselor and litigator with 15 years of experience, having held bar licenses in four states (Mo, Il, Ct and Ga). Stan Faulkner uses this experience and focuses his skills in the pursuit of assisting individuals in probate (trust and estate) matters, guardianships and conservatorships, estate planning, business disputes and contract disputes. Updated on April 09, 2024.

Navigating guardianship can be a complex procedure, with feelings typically running high. When you feel a loved one or family member has become unfit to make their own decisions, you might choose to file a petition requesting the courts grant an involuntary guardianship. An involuntary guardianship is when the person in question does not wish to relinquish control of their property and legal decisions.

With so many factors involved, like family disagreement and maybe even personal feelings of guilt, involuntary guardianship cases are particularly difficult. As with any complex legal field, taking action for GA guardianship often requires the help of an experienced probate lawyer like Stan Faulkner of Perigon Legal Services. Contact us today and schedule an appointment.


Understanding How to Obtain Guardianship in Georgia

Until they need it, most people do not understand the basics of obtaining a GA guardianship. Initiating guardianship in Georgia involves several critical steps, each designed to protect the rights and well-being of the individual in question.

To become a county guardian, you need to submit a Petition for Appointment of Guardian/Conservator with the county’s probate court where your loved one presently lives. The petition must be accompanied by letters of support from a licensed clinical social worker, psychiatrist, or psychologist who has evaluated the prospective ward.

The initial filing fee is $125, but there may be additional charges and filing fees depending on the circumstances.

After the petition to obtain guardianship is filed, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of the proposed ward, ensuring that the guardianship is genuinely needed and that the proposed guardian is suitable.

The adversarial nature of this process stems from its inherent structure, which can be similar to a trial. With the guardianship proceeding, an individual practically asks the court to take the proposed ward’s rights away. On the other hand, the ward has to prove to the court that they are still competent and don’t need a guardian.  

In other words, you need to show that the proposed ward can no longer make reasonable decisions regarding their health and security. Family members or other interested parties may contest the petition, leading to a court hearing where evidence is presented and witnesses can be cross-examined. That can make the proceedings contentious, highlighting the importance of having competent legal representation to navigate the complexities and advocate effectively for the best interests of all involved.

The proposed ward will be notified and allowed to hire legal representation. They must likely submit to a psychological assessment to verify their capability to fight the claim. Additionally, you must prove that you have your loved one’s best interests at heart.

When the court designates a guardian, the individual’s legal right to make personal decisions is eliminated. Petitioning the court for guardianship is complicated, but obtaining adequate legal advice early in the process makes it go much more smoothly.


Who Can Seek Guardianship in GA?

In Georgia, any interested person can petition for guardianship, meaning anyone with a vested interest in the welfare and care of the proposed ward. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Parents of a minor
  • Spouses or adult children of an incapacitated adult
  • Siblings, other relatives, or close friends who can prove the proposed ward’s best interests.
  • Court-appointed guardian ad litem (a guardian who is appointed by the court to represent the interests of a minor child or incapacitated adult in legal proceedings)

Conservatorship vs Guardianship: What Is the Difference?

Guardianship or Conservatorship: which is right for your loved one? They are similar but not the same. In many cases, you may wish to fill the role of both.

The responsibilities of a conservator are restricted to monitoring their ward’s financial affairs. This includes using authorized funds to handle tasks like making investments on their behalf and paying their expenses.

A guardian’s responsibilities are more varied. They make handling the ward’s personal requirements and making decisions regarding healthcare and housing, etc.

Many of these issues can be avoided if your loved one previously planned his or her affairs with an estate planning attorney in Marietta GA. With a thorough plan in place, most of these matters will have been decided and documented. This greatly eases the probate process of assigning guardianship, as the loved one’s wishes are known.

Expert Counsel for Guardianship in Georgia

Conservatorship Vs Guardianship

Legal Guardianship for Adults with Disabilities in GA

Obtaining legal guardianship for adults with disabilities in GA can be particularly sensitive, as otherly-capable individuals usually prefer to retain their independence. Not only does having one’s autonomy transferred to another pertain to choices regarding housing and medical treatments, but it also limits their ability to choose to marry or divorce, work, travel, apply for government benefits, or enter into other legal agreements.

There are a few other options like limited guardianship that focuses on the responsibilities to specific aspects of their life. A sensitive counselor with probate experience can help you weigh the pros and cons of all aspects of guardianship.


Georgia Guardianship Of An Adult Options

When deciding on matters regarding the GA guardianship of an adult, the court will choose who they consider the best person for the role. The options generally follow this order:

  • The person designated in the ward’s estate plan
  • The spouse or an adult child
  • A previously-appointed state guardian
  • A qualified volunteer
  • A county-appointed public official

More information about GA guardianship is provided by the Division of Aging Services site here.

Legal Guardianship in Georgia

So many heartaches of obtaining a legal guardian could be eliminated if everyone would detail their wishes while they were still of sound mind. Why don’t they? There are many reasons. Read “Seven Reasons Why You Avoid Your Estate Planning” to learn more.

Unfortunately, petitioning for guardianship of another individual can put a strain on the entire family. This especially true if members disagree on who must be assigned the role of guardian or conservator. What starts as a well-meaning endeavor to protect the loved one from financial scam-artists can become a tug-of-war over their assets.

To provide flexibility, but also to further complicate the matter, there are many different categories of guardianship or conservatorship in GA. Here are a few of the most common.

What Is Temporary Guardianship Georgia?

A temporary guardianship is generally awarded when the conditions that require the role will be short-term. You can initiate the process by submitting an official petition with the appropriate probate court. Include the names and addresses of all parties involved, as well as the reason temporary guardianship is being sought.

If granted, you can make decisions concerning the ward’s personal, financial, health, or any other matters listed in the order of the probate court. Guardianship may be awarded for a specific period, as described by the court. It may remain in place until the circumstance that necessitated the appointment has been remedied or if the probate court feels you are failing to carry out your duties.

Temporary GA guardianship is most commonly granted when the probate court determines there is an emergency.

Permanent GA Guardianship Probate

To petition for permanent guardianship, it is wise to retain an attorney who can explain probate and how the process works.

Permanent guardianship is reserved for assigning someone to make the decisions for a minor in situations where the parents are no longer in the picture or are deemed unfit to care for the children, and there is no natural guardian. A qualified legal office can offer a more detailed explanation of the differences.


When Is Emergency Guardianship Georgia Granted?

Emergency guardianship is granted in the event that an accident or illness deprives the ward of the opportunity to appoint their own representative. Other requirements for appointing an emergency guardian include:

  • The proposed ward is incapacitated
  • There is an immediate risk of harm
  • There are no other alternatives

As you will likely have little time to research the subject in the case of an emergency, you should immediately contact a savvy legal representative to assist you with emergency guardianship.

Legal Guardianship In Georgia

Guardianship Lawyer in GA

Georgia Guardianship Forms Found Here

When the time comes, you can find the necessary Georgia guardianship forms online. GA Guardianship forms are readily available online. As with any legal matter, however, they can be a bit complicated. For clarification and counsel, consult a reputable probate lawyer.


Temporary Guardianship Form Georgia Filing Process

The entire process begins by filling out a temporary guardianship form, and you must file a Petition for Appointment with the probate court. The prospective ward will be formally served and requires legal representation. A temporary guardian can perhaps be selected within a week if it is necessary to keep your loved one safe.

Unfortunately, guardianship proceedings are often contested by the proposed ward or even another family member. People usually oppose having their rights removed or restricted. This makes the process potentially heated and time-consuming. The right guardianship attorney can reduce the money and time required, and therefore the stress involved.

Georgia Guardianship Handbook

The Georgia Guardianship Handbook will provide many of the answers you need, such as whether guardianship papers expire, etc. For those you are unable to find or have difficulty understanding, a knowledgeable Georgia lawyer can clarify. Contact us and let Stan Faulkner guide you in these intricate issues.

Understand Georgia Guardianship Laws by Hiring the Right Lawyer

Many people do not understand the basic GA guardianship laws. This can result in many problems that can subsequently result in civil or even criminal charges if serious mistakes are made according to Georgia law. For example, few realize that as a conservator in GA, you need to have a bond of insurance coverage to secure the monetary interests of the proposed ward. This way, if you breach your fiduciary task regarding your ward’s possessions, they are protected.

Although most lay-people are unaware of all of the details surrounding guardianship, Mr. Faulkner is. Contact him now to schedule an appointment.

Georgia Guardianship Handbook

Trusted Guardianship Lawyer in GA

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