A guardianship is a protective arrangement established through the probate court whereby an individual, known as the guardian, is appointed by the probate court and given the authority to make decisions for an incapacitated individual, known as the ward. This decision making authority can involve the ward’s assets, known as guardianship over the estate, or the ward’s care, known as guardianship over the person, or both. More than one person may be appointed to serve as guardian, and the guardian over the estate and the guardian over the person may be different people.
If an adult has a durable power of attorney for health care and a durable power of attorney for personal and financial matters, typically there will be no need for a guardianship once that individual becomes incapacitated. Instead, the agents named in these documents will have the authority to make decisions for the individual. If an adult becomes incapacitated without one or both of these documents in place, a guardianship may be necessary.
Under New Hampshire law, a minor is deemed to be incapacitated and unable to manage the minor’s financial and personal affairs until age eighteen. There are circumstances when it may be necessary to have a legal guardian appointed for a minor. This could occur, for example, due to the death of both of the minor’s parents or when the minor is entitled to assets from an inheritance or a personal injury settlement.
When a guardianship is necessary, Flood, Sheehan & Tobin can assist with the probate court process, including the guardianship petition, the hearing, and the reports and accounts that the guardian must file on an annual basis.