10 Things you need to know about guardianship

September 19, 2018 by Maria Buehler in Care Management, Crisis Intervention, For Professionals, Guardianship, Intellectual Disability, Mental Illness, Power of Attorney

guardianship, guardian, elderly

The terrain of life can become challenging, particularly as you grow older. Aging can bring on new challenges—chronic illness or even the responsibility of a loved one where the roles of parents and children are now reversed. Sometimes the issue has nothing to do with aging; it’s an intellectual disability or a cognitive problem or even an unexpected injury. When life happens or is happening, you might find yourself navigating the unfamiliar territory of the state legal system, especially in regard to guardianship. Every state has their own laws regarding guardianship. But here are ten things you need to know about guardianship in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

10 Things about guardianship you need to know:


  1. Guardianship is a legal process that allows a person or entity to make health care and or financial decisions on behalf of another.


  1. The adult person in need of a guardian must be classified as “incapacitated”, meaning they are incapable of managing their health, personal, and/or financial affairs. An individual may have this difficulty because they have an intellectual disability or an illness, such as dementia if they are an older person. Or they may have some other cognitive or physical disability that is preventing them from fulfilling their activities of daily living.


  1. Only a court can appoint a guardian. Although a parent can name or assign a guardian for their adult child through a will, a court hearing is necessary to legally appoint the guardian.


  1. This court ordered process begins with a sound assessment of the individual. The individual must be medically examined. The medical evaluation must state or show that the individual is incapable of handling some part of their life, whether it is personal, physical, and/or financial.


  1. Once the medical support for that person’s incapacity is obtained, then a petition is made at the local Orphans’ Court in the county where that person resides to seek guardianship and to have that person declared incapacitated.


  1. The court will look for the least restrictive route before considering guardianship. Guardianship is an extreme measure and should be considered after all other options have been exhausted, because the person will no longer have the right to manage their own life.


  1. The guardian should not have any criminal history, history of filing bankruptcy, any kind of financial distress, or difficulties that they have gone through or are going through. If the prospective guardian has any of these financial issues, the court is less likely to award guardianship to that person.


  1. A guardian can be a person or an organization. In a County like Philadelphia the Orphans’ Court appoints a person to be guardian versus an organization.


  1. Generally, there are two types of guardianship: guardian of the person and guardian of the estate. The guardian of the person is responsible for the incapacitated person’s well-being. The guardian of the estate manages the incapacitated person’s assets and financial affairs. Each one is assigned limited or plenary power by the court. A person or organization can be the guardian of the incapacitated person/guardian of the incapacitated person’s estate or both.


  1. A guardian does not have the responsibility of financially supporting the incapacitated person.

Why Intervention Associates?

Experience: We are experienced. Founded in 1986, we have been helping individuals and families navigate the complexities of life when it comes to care.

Skills: Before we accept a new guardianship client, we make sure we have the ability to serve that client well. We have a committee that looks at our existing and prospective cases and makes this decision.

Peace: Because your peace of mind is important to us, we have proven to be excellent mediators in helping the incapacitated person and their families.

Trust: We can be trusted. Meeting the needs of our clients is our primary concern.

Character: We have character. We are guided by our Quaker values of integrity, inclusion, compassion and respect for human dignity.



Intervention Associates is a care management and guardianship service. We offer professional in-home and other care management and legal guardianship services for people of all ages with all kinds of conditions – even the most complex diseases, chronic conditions, and physical and intellectual disabilities, covering Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware.  To learn more about our guardianship service, listen here to our podcast on guardianship or contact us.


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