Overview of guardianships

On Behalf of | Oct 9, 2020 | Elder Law

Families in Maryland may encounter a situation in which they have to provide for the care of a minor child or even for an adult who can no longer take care of herself. For example, a child may lose both of his parents in an accident or may be in a situation where neither parent is able to care for the child.


In these cases, family member or friends may prefer to set up a private guardianship for the child rather than rely on the state authorities. In other situations, even a young adult can suddenly be severely disabled in an accident, and adults of any age may reach a point where they can no longer manage themselves and their property.

If this disabled person did not have a comprehensive estate plan in place, then family and friends may need legal authority to control the person’s property and manage their living arrangements.

Guardianships may be necessary in these cases.

A guardianship is a court order granting authority to act on another’s behalf

Guardianships are court orders granting legal authority for one person, often a loved one, to act on behalf of a child or an adult who cannot fully function independently for whatever reason.

In Maryland, there are two types of guardianships: guardians of the person, and guardians of the property.

A guardian of the person will, except as specified by the court, have the authority similar to what a parent has over his child. Basically, the guardian can make healthcare decisions on behalf of the protected person, even if these decisions involve life and death. Likewise, a guardian can place the protect person in a care facility or other shelter.

A guardian of the property will have the legal authority to take control of and manage the protected person’s property, much like an attorney in fact would under a power of attorney. A guardianship of the property may be referred to as a conservatorship.

The same person can be both a guardian of the person and of the estate.

Setting up and managing a guardianship is a legally complicated affair, as guardians must follow several rules, meet deadlines and are expected to carefully perform oftentimes difficult legal and financial duties.

10 Best Attorney
PLF badge
2019 Member American Immigration Lawyers Association
Expertise 2020
Lawyers of Distinction 2021