Frequently Asked Questions: Guardianships

In what county would I file a guardianship?

In a minor guardianship, the petitioner would file in the county where the minor resides or is present at the time the proceeding is commenced. In a guardianship for an incapacitated individual, the petitioner would file in the county where the incapacitated individual resides or is present. If the incapacitated individual is admitted to an institution by court order, the petitioner would file in the county in which that court is located.

How do I become a guardian?

To become a guardian, you must file a petition, pay the fee, serve interested persons, and appear at a hearing.  Generally, anyone may petition to become guardian.

What is the difference between a full minor guardianship and a limited minor guardianship?

A full minor guardianship may be initiated by anyone, as long as certain criteria are met. A limited guardianship is a voluntary guardianship which may only be initiated by a parent who has physical custody of the child. Also, the guardian powers differ. In a full minor guardianship, the guardian may consent to marriage or adoption; however, in a limited minor guardianship, the guardian may not consent to either marriage or adoption.

What is the difference between a full adult guardianship and a limited adult guardianship?

In a full adult guardianship, the guardian may attend to the ward's entire needs; however, in a limited adult guardianship the guardian may only act for the purposes stated in the Letters of Guardianship.

Why do I have to fill out this Annual Report on guardianship when you have already sent someone out to review us?

You, as fiduciary, are required by law to file an annual report every year. The court, by law, must also conduct an investigation called a "review". The guardianship review is a personal consultation conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services. The guardianship review is only conducted every three years for adults or once a year for minors.

What is a "legal" father for guardianship purposes?

The court recognizes a "legal father" as a man (1) who was married to the mother at the time of conception or birth; (2) who is listed on the child's birth certificate, (3) who has acknowledged paternity, or (4) who has been adjudicated as the father during a paternity hearing.

What do I do, as guardian, if the ward dies?

If a ward dies, the guardian must provide a death certificate to the court within 14 days so that the file may be closed and the guardian may be released.

What situation justifies an emergency hearing on a guardianship?

An emergency guardianship hearing would be warranted when medical decisions are immediately necessary to save the ward from severe injury, illness, or death. If an emergency hearing is requested, Charlevoix County Probate Court requires a letter from the hospital or doctor indicating the medical emergency. Any hearing that is scheduled for a date and time other than the next regularly scheduled hearing date is considered an emergency hearing.

What is the difference between a guardianship and a conservatorship?

A guardian has responsibility over the ward's health care and wellbeing, whereas, a conservator has responsibility over the wards finances and assets. Be aware that a guardian may handle regular income such as pension or social security without a conservatorship.

Who pays the guardian ad litem (GAL) fees for adult guardianship cases?

Generally, GAL fees are paid from the ward's estate; however, if the ward's estate is insolvent, then the GAL will bill the county.