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Alabama Guardians

WHAT IS A GUARDIAN:

A guardian is the parent of a minor or someone who has been appointed by the Probate Court to be responsible for the personal care of an individual.

WHAT IS A WARD?

Legal name for a person for whom a guardian has been appointed.

WHO CAN BE A GUARDIAN FOR AN ADULT?

Any qualified person may be appointed. However, the law establishes the following priorities:

  1. Person named in a durable power of attorney
  2. Spouse or spouse's nominee
  3. Adult child
  4. Parent or parent's nominee
  5. Relative with whom person has lived the prior 6 months
  6. Nominee of caretaker of person

VOLUNTEER GUARDIAN PROGRAM:

A Volunteer Guardian program has been established in Mobile County through the efforts of several organizations, individuals and the Probate Court. HandsOn South Alabama, in partnership with the Mobile Bar Association, officially launched the program back in May of 2010. Volunteer guardians are utilized by the Probate Court in those instances where an adult incapacitated person, in need of such assistance, has no other person willing or available to serve. An appointed volunteer guardian makes decisions on the ward’s behalf concerning health and well-being matters and provides the Court with reports as required. For more information on this service, and to perhaps learn more on how to participate in this rewarding program, please contact HandsOn South Alabama at 251-431-0110 or visit http://www.agingsouthalabama.org/.

WHO CAN BE GUARDIAN FOR A CHILD?

The Probate Court may appoint any person who will act in the best interest of the minor. However, if the minor is 14 years old or older, the minor's nominee must be appointed unless the appointment is contrary to the minor's best interest. Also, a parental nomination has priority.

CAN A PARENT APPOINT A GUARDIAN?

Yes, in a will a parent may appoint a guardian for a minor child or for an unmarried incapacitated child.

CAN A SPOUSE APPOINT A GUARDIAN?

Yes, in a will a person may appoint a guardian for his or her incapacitated spouse.

WHAT ARE THE POWERS OF A GUARDIAN?

  1. Must assume responsibilities of a parent regarding support, care and education
  2. Must become personally acquainted with ward
  3. Must take reasonable care of ward's personal effects
  4. Must apply available money for current needs or health, support, education and maintenance
  5. Must conserve excess money
  6. Must report the condition of the ward to the Probate Court
  7. May receive limited funds for support of ward
  8. May take custody of ward and establish a home
  9. May compel payment of support
  10. May consent to medical care
  11. May consent to marriage or adoption
  12. May delegate certain responsibilities to the ward for the decision making

(Probate Court may limit powers of guardianship)

WHEN DOES A GUARDIANSHIP END?

  1. Upon death
  2. Upon resignation of the guardian
  3. Upon adoption of the minor
  4. Upon marriage of the minor
  5. Upon minor becoming an adult
  6. When ward's incapacity is terminated

(Probate Court may limit powers of guardianship)

AM I REQUIRED TO HAVE A LAWYER?

The legal complexity of guardianships and conservatorships normally necessitates having an attorney since the Judge of Probate cannot advise you of the law or provide you with forms.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GUARDIAN AND A CONSERVATOR?

The guardian is a person who looks after the child or incapacitated person and their welfare while a conservator is responsible for safeguarding the assets of a child or incapacitated person.

WHAT ARE THE STEPS FOLLOWED IN APPOINTING A GUARDIAN OR CONSERVATOR FOR AN ADULT?

  1. Petition filed
  2. Appointment of a guardian ad litem
  3. Examination by physician
  4. Appointment of Probate Court's representative
  5. Hearing
  6. Jury at hearing if demanded
  7. Bond for conservator
  8. Order granting petition
  9. Inventory of property for conservator
  10. Letters of guardianship and/or conservatorship

IS A BOND REQUIRED?

No.

IS AN INVENTORY REQUIRED?

No.

ARE ACCOUNTINGS REQUIRED?

No.

GUARDIAN'S CARE PLAN & ANNUAL REPORT INFORMATION & FORMS

The Probate Court requires guardians of adults to file a Care Plan, due within 45 days of appointment, and Annual Reports, due every 12 months (anniversary month of appointment). The following forms in PDF format can be downloaded and used for this purpose. Please note that failure to file these reports will be grounds to terminate the appointment of the guardian. For more information, the guardian should contact his/her attorney.

    Guardian Care Plan
    Annual Status Report of Guardian 
    Volunteer Guardian Program 
    General Order on Notice Requirements

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THIS INFORMATION PAGE, WHICH IS BASED ON ALABAMA LAW, IS TO INFORM AND NOT TO ADVISE. NO PERSON SHOULD EVER APPLY OR INTERPRET ANY LAW WITHOUT THE AID OF A LAWYER WHO ANALYZES THE FACTS, BECAUSE THE FACTS MAY CHANGE THE APPLICATION OF THE LAW.