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What is a Guardian of the Person?

A Guardian of the Person is someone appointed by the Court to manage the life decisions, including health affairs, of an Incapacitated Person. A Guardian of the Person makes decisions to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the Incapacitated Person. For example, an Incapacitated Person might not be able to remember if they have eaten or taken medication, or might no longer be able to cook for themselves. The Guardian of the Person may be authorized by the Court to make decisions about where an incapacitated person shall live, who shall prepare meals, and to make decisions about consenting to medical and surgical procedures. The Guardian of the Person does not manage the finances, property or income of the Incapacitated Person unless the same person is appointed as Guardian of the Estate.

Two Types of Guardians of the Person

There are two types of Guardians of the Person:

1. Limited Guardian of the Person

A Limited Guardian is given only those powers and responsibilities specifically identified by the Court in the Court’s Final Decree.

2. Plenary (full) Guardian of the Person

A Plenary Guardian is given the full authority to make all decisions for the Incapacitated Person.

Regardless of which type, the Guardian’s primary responsibility is to represent the rights and best interests of the Incapacitated Person. The expressed wishes and preferences of the Incapacitated Person should be honored to the greatest extent possible. If, however, those wishes conflict with what is in the best interests of the Incapacitated Person, the Guardian should follow their independent judgment to the extent necessary. For example, the Incapacitated Person might strongly wish to remain living alone at home, but this might not be safe living arrangement for them. In such a case, the Guardian’s responsibility to do what is in the best interests of the Incapacitated Person, even if that means moving them to a senior care facility that is more likely to keep them safe and healthy.

Consult with a Guardianship Lawyer Today

If you have questions about legal guardianship in Pittsburgh, we recommend consulting with a lawyer experienced in guardianship proceedings and elder law. At Fiffik Law Group, our skilled lawyers have helped many clients in the Pittsburgh area navigate the guardianship process. Whether you are pursuing becoming a guardian or objecting to a guardian, we can help. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.

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