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What you should know about guardianships

When people are unable to make important decisions regarding their finances, safety or medical treatment, they may need an appointed guardian to make decisions on their behalf. People who suffer from a mental illness, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s, dementia or were born with a developmental disability may need a guardianship. Whether you are in need of a guardian or you wish to obtain a guardianship over another person, there are some things you should know about the process of establishing a guardianship in Iowa.

Once you apply for guardianship, the court must find that the person who may need help, otherwise referred to as the ward, is not capable of making decisions on their own. All decisions are made in the best interest of the ward. There are both full guardianships, which give the guardian a wide-range of decision making abilities, and limited guardianships in which the guardian has the ability to make decisions in only select areas.

Depending on whether you are a full or limited guardian, you may be asked to make decisions regarding the ward’s comfort, care, health care, residence, education and emergency medical services. In order to be named a guardian, you must submit a petition to the state indicating why a guardian is needed, your information and what decisions you should make. You must also show evidence to the court that the person is not able to make decisions and needs help. This may include medical documentation, physician reports, witnesses, care plans and other assessments. A hearing may be held to display all of the evidence, and to give the person a chance to rebuke the need for a guardian if needed.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice. 

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