Guardianship refers to the legal authority of one individual to make decisions on behalf of another individual. Guardianship is appropriate when there is a minor child who does not have parents or existing legal guardians or when an adult becomes legally incapacitated. If a Court believes that a guardianship order is appropriate, such order does not necessarily last forever:
Under Missouri Revised Statute Section 475.083, the authority of a duly appointed guardian terminates in the following circumstances:
(1) When a minor ward becomes eighteen years of age;
(2) Upon an adjudication that an incapacitated or disabled person has been restored to his capacity or ability;
(3) Upon revocation of the letters of the guardian or conservator;
(4) Upon the acceptance by the court of the resignation of the guardian or conservator;
(5) Upon the death of the ward or protectee except that if there is no person other than the estate of the ward or protectee liable for the funeral and burial expenses of the ward or protectee the guardian or conservator may, with the approval of the court, contract for the funeral and burial of the deceased ward or protectee;
(6) Upon the expiration of an order appointing a guardian or conservator ad litem unless the court orders extension of the appointment;
(7) Upon an order of court terminating the guardianship or conservatorship.
Item (6) is of particular interest. Under the authority of this section, a Court can set time limits on how long the order lasts. While on its face this may not seem useful, in certain circumstances it is a blessing. For instance, if a child’s parents are unavailable for an extended period of time, voluntarily or involuntarily, temporary guardianship ensures that the child will have a decision-maker while also not offending traditional parental rights.
Guardianship is not a straightforward process. It requires court appearances and witnesses to testify in support of the purported incapacity. Contact us with questions.