Guardianships in Oregon

Guardianships in Oregon

March 12, 2013 - by

What is a guardian?

A guardian is someone whom the court appoints to make decisions for a protected person.  A guardian may be appointed for a minor when a parent is unable or unwilling to care for a child, or a guardian may be appointed for an adult who is incapacitated.  Guardians do not typically make financial decisions as a conservator would, but they make personal decisions like where a protected person will live and what medical care they should receive.  The scope of a guardian’s decision making authority can be either specifically limited by the court or unlimited depending on the circumstances.

When is a guardianship necessary?

A guardianship is necessary when a person is no longer capable of making decisions about his or her care and safety.  There is no bright line for deciding when someone is no longer able to make decisions for himself or herself, and it is extraordinarily difficult for loved ones to come to this conclusion.  Diagnosis of a mental illness in and of itself may not require a guardianship.  Courts will take into consideration opinions of doctors, psychologists, case workers, family, and friends.

How is a guardian appointed?

Someone must petition the court to be appointed a guardian.  An attorney is usually instrumental in guiding the petitioner through this process.  Sufficient facts must be alleged to support the appointment of a guardian in a specific case.

Who can be appointed a guardian?

A proposed guardian must not be incompetent, a minor, a lawyer whose license is under suspension or who has been disbarred, an Oregon judge, or the owner, administrator, or employee of a nursing home, foster home, residential care facility, or assisted living facility where the protected person is living.  A close family member is usually the best choice for a proposed guardian, but when there is no one available or willing to serve, the court may also appoint a professional fiduciary.

What are the responsibilities of a guardian?

A guardian must:

  • take legal custody of the protected person to make medical decisions
  • take care of the protected person’s personal property and receive money for support, care, and education if there is no conservator appointed
  • make advance funeral and burial arrangements
  • perform all court related duties including the filing of an annual report

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