General Adult Guardianship Articles
Guardianship is a court proceeding. When an adult is unable to make personal decisions, such as medical decisions, or to handle his or her own property, a court can appoint a guardian.
In Maryland, a guardian should only be appointed if there are no less restrictive alternatives. During the court guardianship proceeding, the court must first determine there is no less restrictive alternative available, so consider alternatives prior to beginning guardianship proceedings. This article lists some, but not all, available alternatives.
Establishing a guardianship is a formal, public, legal process. It is initiated when someone files a petition with a Maryland circuit court to be appointed guardian for an “alleged disabled person.” It should be noted that a disabled person is always an “alleged” disabled person until that person is determined by a court to be disabled, based on competent medical evidence, affidavits or opinions. Prior to that determination, a person is presumed to have capacity. If the court determines that a person is disabled, the court will appoint someone, most often an interested person, to serve as guardian, and issue an order setting out the terms and conditions of the appointment.
Interested persons play a pivotal role in guardianship proceedings. For example, only an interested person can petition for guardianship.
If the alleged disabled person does not already have an attorney, the court will appoint an attorney for the disabled person. This is required to ensure that the alleged disabled person’s due process rights are not violated during the guardianship proceedings.