Estate and Gifts, Torree J. Breen, Guardianships/Conservatorships

What Is A Guardian?

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Michigan has laws to allow persons to act as guardian for persons that are no longer competent to make financial and/or medical decisions on their own behalf.  Pursuant to the Michigan Estates and Protected Individuals Code, the powers and duties of a guardian are expressly written and will be enforced by the courts. A guardian is appointed after the probate court in the county for which the incapacitated individual resides determines that the person is unable to make decisions on his/her behalf.

Generally a guardian is responsible for the care, custody and control of the legally incapacitated person – but is not liable to third persons for the acts of the incapacitated person. The guardian may give consent which will enable the incapacitated person to receive medical care or other professional care and treatment. However, they may not place the person in a mental institution without a full court hearing. Each year the guardian must file a report on the condition of the incapacitated person with the probate court where the appointment took place and give a copy to the person and to the interested parties.  The court will then decide if the guardianship shall continue. The incapacitated individual is entitled to an attorney, if they should request one.

A guardian may also be compensated from the incapacitated person’s assets which may include insurance benefits and/or Social Security payments. The amount of compensation will depend primarily on the amount of time spent by the guardian, the nature of the services provided, the amount of available funds, and the special needs for the person.  The ward may challenge the fees charged by the guardian, but must do so by objection when the guardian presents his/her fees to the court for review.