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Guardianships & Conservatorships of Minors

Temporary Guardianship of Minor: 

Temporary guardianships are sometimes granted if the natural guardians (parents) are unable to care for their minor children and must place them with a friend or relative who can care for the children until the parents can do so again.  In these situations, a temporary guardianship of the minor can be useful to the parties so that the temporary guardian can enroll the child in school, authorize medical treatment, etc.  Temporary guardianships automatically terminate upon the child reaching the age of majority (18).  The temporary guardian or natural guardian may also petition to terminate the temporary guardianship.

 

Permanent Guardianship of Minor: 

Permanent guardianships of minor children are not authorized unless both parents are deceased or the parental rights of any living parent have been terminated by a court.  Termination of parental rights is not the same thing as a loss of custody.  Termination is permanent.  A custody order may be modified at a later date.  Permanent guardianships automatically terminate upon the child reaching the age of majority (18).

 

Testamentary Guardianship of Minor: 

A parent, in his or her will, may elect to nominate a testamentary guardian for a minor child or children.  In this instance, upon the probate of the deceased parent's will, provided there is no other living parent, the nominated person shall receive letters of guardianship without notice or hearing.  A testamentary guardian holds the same powers as a permanent guardian appointed by the Court, but is not required to give bond.  Testamentary guardianships automatically terminate upon the child reaching the age of majority.

 

Conservatorship of Minor:

A conservatorship of the property of a minor is required in order for any person who is not the child's natural guardian to receive, on the minor's behalf, money or property.  A natural guardian may receive money or property for their child without becoming a conservator if the property is worth less than $15,000.00, provided no other person has been appointed conservator of the child's property.

Guardianship & Conservatorship of Incapacitated Adults

There are two main types of guardianship for incapacitated adults: guardianship of the person and guardianship of the property (conservatorship).  A guardianship of the person may remove from the incapacitated person the power to contract marriage, to make other contracts, to consent to medical treatment, to establish a residence, and to bring or defend an action in court.  A guardianship of the property (conservatorship) may remove from the ward the power to bring or defend actions in court, to make contracts, to buy and sell property, and to manage their business and financial affairs.  Often, a court appoints one person as guardian of the person and the property.

 

A guardianship can either be permanent or temporary.  Also, a guardianship can be total (granting all powers) or the guardian's powers may be limited, with the ward retaining some powers that could have been removed.  Georgia law recognizes that not all incapacitated persons are incapacitated in the same manner and to the same degree.

 

The law specifically requires that all guardianship shall be "designed to encourage the development of maximum self-reliance and independence of the ward and shall be ordered only to the extent necessitated by the person's actual adaptive limitations" O.C.G.A § 29-5-7(h).  For example, just because a person does not possess the judgement to make contracts does not necessarily mean that he or she cannot decide where to live.

 

Emergency Guardianship:

A guardianship can be created on an emergency basis if there is an immediate, clear, and substantial risk of death, serious injury, illness or disease, or irreparable waste or dissipation of the person's assets.