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What is a legal guardian?

A will serves many different functions. Most people understand that it helps to designate who will receive one's property when that person dies. However, it can do more than that. One area where a will is extremely important is appointing a guardian for people's wards.

A ward is an individual -- like a minor child -- that needs to be cared for by another person. A ward could also include someone that is incapacitated because of a physical or mental disability. But, what is a guardian?

A guardian is a person that is appointed by the court to make decisions for the ward. The guardian is responsible for ensuring the ward is receiving the care that they need. This can include arranging for the ward's education and providing day-to-day necessities like food, clothing and transportation. A guardian also has the power to make medical decisions for the ward and the ability to manage the ward's finances.

Guardians are appointed in a couple of situations. First, they can be appointed if adults cannot care for themselves. In the case of children, they are appointed when children do not have an adult to make important decisions for them. In particular, if the child's parents die, a guardian would be necessary.

It is important for Michigan residents to understand when a guardian is required and how to choose the right person. If a guardian for a person's children is not named in a will, for example, it could lead to a prolonged legal battle about who should have custody over the children. By naming a guardian, you can ensure that your loved ones will be taken care of should the unthinkable occur.

For more information about guardians, people should seek specific legal advice. While this blog post can provide general information, an attorney can help people with their unique situations.

Source: FindLaw, "Guardianship Basics," accessed June 20, 2015

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