1. General Information
  2. Emergency Temporary Guardians
  3. Electronic Fingerprint Instructions

A guardianship is a legal arrangement under which a person (the guardian) has the legal right and duty to care for another (the ward) and his or her property. A guardian of the person makes decisions and takes action regarding the personal care of the ward. A guardian of the property manages the property and assets of the ward. A guardian must be represented by an attorney.

Establishing Guardianship

A guardianship is established when a person is unable to legally act on his/her own behalf. This may be due to minority, (he or she is not of age), or due to mental and/or physical incapacity. A competent adult may also ­petition the court to appoint a voluntary guardian for himself or herself.


A guardianship must be established for the property of a minor child when an amount of over $50,000 is to be paid to the minor. The court may also appoint a guardian before approving a settlement for a claim over $15,000. This may occur through inheritance or through a settlement of legal action. Guardianship of the person of a minor child may need to be established if both natural parents are deceased, incapacitated, or unavailable.


A guardianship for an alleged incapacitated person is initiated by filing a petition to determine capacity and a petition to appoint a guardian with the Clerk’s Probate Department. The proposed guardian must be represented by an attorney.

The alleged incapacitated person ("the person") and next of kin will be served with a notice and a copy of the court order appointing an examining committee and setting a hearing. An attorney will be appointed to represent the person at the hearing. Each member of the examining committee submits his or her report to the court after examining the person. At the hearing, the court will make a determination regarding the capacity of the -person, and if necessary, appoint a guardian.


A person may voluntarily petition the court for the appointment of a guardian for his or her property when, though mentally competent, he or she is incapable of the care, custody, and management of his estate by reason of age or physical infirmity. A certificate of a licensed physician is required, stating that he or she has examined the person and that the person is competent to understand the nature of the guardianship and his delegation of authority.

Report Guardianship Fraud

Fraud or waste of a ward's finances or guardianship assets can be reported to the Clerk's Department of Inspector General. View our Inspector General page for additional information.