Guardianship Law

Guardianship in Maryland

Maryland has two types of petitions for guardianship, guardian of the person and guardianship of the property.  The court may either appoint a guardian of the person, a guardian of the property, or both. One person can serve as both guardian of the person and guardian of the property, or different people can take each role. Additionally, in emergency cases, or in cases where an individual has no family member or friend to serve as guardian, a court may appoint a public guardian. In this situation, the court will appoint a public official or a publicly funded organization, such as a local Area Agency on Aging or the Maryland Department of Social Services, to serve as legal guardian in the absence of a willing and responsible family member or in the absence of resources to employ a private guardian.

Planning Ahead to Save Money

The Guardianship process can often be avoided by planning in advance for incapacity.  Guardianships, if contested, can costs families in dispute thousands of dollars.  If you or a loved one are diagnosed with an illness, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, that may at some point render you incapacitated, meaning that you are not able to make decisions for yourself, contact Melissa Wu to help you put simple and inexpensive documents into place while you or your loved one has capacity to sign estate planning documents, such as a Will, Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive.

Alternatives to Guardianship

There are other alternatives to Guardianship that may be available.  Maryland law provides that if there is a lesser restrictive alternative available, such as a duly executed Power of Attorney, Advance Medical Directive or the availability of a surrogate decision maker, these alternatives should be utilized in lieu of the filing of a Guardianship petition.  There are other viable alternatives available so that a Guardianship may not be necessary, call Melissa Wu to discuss whether a Guardianship is necessary.

Representing the Interested Person

If you are contemplating filing a Petition for Guardianship of the Person and/or a Petition for Guardianship of the Property or if someone has filed either of these petitions for you or a loved one, you have rights under Maryland law.  Melissa Wu has represented interested persons who object to the filing of a Guardianship petition by a nursing home, and has successfully fought to get the petitions withdrawn. Guardianship should be a means of last resort to help an Alleged Disabled Person (ADP) with their financial and personal needs.  Guardianship impacts a person’s autonomy and should only be used when absolutely necessary to protect the ADP.