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How are guardians selected?

You may know an adult in Maryland, perhaps a member of your family, who is not competent to make decisions for himself or herself due to disability or incapacitation. The condition may have been present since childhood, or it may have occurred as an adult. It may be age-related or the result of head trauma or substance abuse. Whatever the circumstance, the court has to put legal matters pertaining to this individual into the hands of a guardian who makes decisions on his or her behalf in regard to health, education and finances. The legal term for an individual with a guardian managing his or her affairs is a "ward." 

What goes into choosing a guardian for an adult ward? According to FindLaw, the court takes several different factors into consideration. Where available, one of the most important considerations is the ward's wishes as expressed in a power of attorney or another legal document before the incapacitation took place. If no such document exists, the court prefers to choose a guardian from among the ward's family members or close associates, with parents and spouses highly favored. The court considers the candidate's ability to fulfill the responsibilities and duties involved in becoming a guardian, along with the following attributes:

  • Physical capacity
  • History
  • Character
  • Age (18 or older)

The court may remove a guardian and assign a new one in the event that the original guardian failed to take adequate care of the ward or took advantage of his or her access to the ward's property. Removal of a guardian may also take place even in the absence of any wrongdoing if the court determines that the ward no longer has need of one. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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