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A guardian, a ward, and the relationship between them

It's not easy to watch someone you love or care about slip into a state where they are no longer able to perform basic tasks or even make decisions for themselves. These cases can arise when someone suffers from a physical or mental disability, or a serious medical condition, or even an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

What can be done for people who suffer from these unfortunate situations? A guardian can be chosen to help the individual, known as a ward, with those decisions and with other critical tasks that must be completed. For example, a guardian can help his or her ward with their finances, or with school or medical care. They can also complete mundane but important tasks, such as grocery shopping. It may sound basic, but a guardianship is a vital tool for many people, and anyone who becomes a guardian should act responsibly and treat the title with respect.

A guardian can be appointed by a court, or they can be chosen by a legal document composed by or on behalf of the ward. Usually the guardian is a relative or loved one, such as a spouse, parent or close friend. However, the guardian can also be a state employee if the circumstances warrant it.

Being a guardian is a huge responsibility. You must perform your duties effectively and appropriately, not only because your ward depends on you, but because you can be removed from the position -- and face serious punishment -- if it is determined that you acted negligently as a guardian.

Source: FindLaw, "Guardianship Basics," Accessed Oct. 13, 2015

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