While it's not the most pleasant topic to think about, it is important that we all take the time to acknowledge that life is not an indefinite circumstance. It is important to think about how your loved ones will be cared for should you pass, in other words, so that their lives can continue on as smoothly as possible even if you are not able to take care of them personally. One of the best ways to do this is by reaching out to an experienced attorney to discuss guardianship options.
WHAT IS A GUARDIAN?
In Alabama, a legal guardianship is the result of a court hearing that is conducted in order to appoint someone to take care of a minor or an incapacitated adult. The caretaker in this scenario is called a guardian, and the person left in their care is known as the ward. It is common to find guardians appointed after a child's parents die or are otherwise incapacitated and unable to take care of them.
WHAT DUTIES AND RIGHTS DOES A LEGAL GUARDIAN HAVE?
A legal guardian of a minor is responsible for everything that a parent would be responsible for. They must ensure that the child in question receives a basic education and has all of their basic needs met. This means that they must provide shelter and food until the child reaches the age of majority just like a parent would have to.
A legal guardian also has the ability to make decisions regarding the well-being of the minor in question. This includes things like their medical care. They have the right to take the child to the doctor's office and to be privy to their medical records to the same extent that a parent might be.
WHO BECOMES A GUARDIAN?
When you act proactively and ensure that you have a will in place in the event of your death, you can name the individual to become guardian of your children. Note that there are certain laws and guidelines that the court must follow when appointing someone a guardian, however these are things that an experienced attorney can help you understand and navigate when going over your options. Additionally, it should be noted that in the state of Alabama a child over 14 years in age has the right to object to a parental appointment. It might be wise to discuss your plans with your older children, even if vaguely, so that they are not surprised by your choice.
DO GUARDIANS CARE FOR ADULTS, TOO?
In certain circumstances, guardians for adults might be named. This is usually done in situations where the adult in question is incapacitated due to illness or injury and is no longer capable of caring for themselves and making their own decisions. A physician's examination will be required before the court can appoint anyone to be the guardian of an adult.
For more information about legal guardianships and how they work in Alabama, it is important to reach out to an experienced attorney who can help you look at your options and make the best possible choice. Contact Sara Doty, Attorney at Law, LLC, today for further guidance! Call us for an initial consultation at 256-519-9970.