Is a Guardian Legally Responsible for the Acts of a Ward?
When parents or other loved ones decide to seek guardianship and conservatorship, they do so because their family member cannot make critical decisions alone. Guardianship and conservatorship, which may both be held by the same person, allow the loved one to manage the ward’s health and safety and the ward’s finances, respectively.
But guardianship is also about facilitating as much independence as possible—allowing the special needs individual to fully participate in decision-making within a safe, protected framework.
Sometimes, of course, a ward leaves the boundaries of that framework, making decisions independently or under the influence of others that are not healthy, wise or legal. If the ward commits a crime or has an accident is the guardian liable?
Guardianship and Liability
When choosing to seek guardianship, some families worry about their own legal or financial liability. Perhaps the potential ward has a history of violence or reckless behavior. The truth is, some guardians have great difficulty in effectively managing their ward.
Because of this, guardians are not legally or financially liable for their wards’ actions in most cases. Provided the guardians are fulfilling their role in good faith, the structures of guardianship protect them.
Conservators must also act in good faith when managing their ward’s assets and property. A conservator may be held responsible for a ward’s financial losses only if the conservator directly violates his or her fiduciary duty. While most families will combine the two roles into one, designating a single person as guardian/conservator, this doesn’t have to be the case. If finances are a source of conflict, or if the guardian does not feel comfortable handling them, a third party may be selected as conservator.
Considering whether to file for guardianship and/or conservatorship is a big decision with many factors. In most cases, concern for personal liability doesn’t need to be a significant consideration.
Speak With an Atlanta Guardianship Lawyer
At Nadler Biernath, we know the decision to seek guardianship can be a challenging one. We have experience handling all aspects of estate planning, special needs law and elder care law. Call us today at 770-999-9799 to schedule your initial consultation to discuss how we can help your loved ones.