Guardianship of an adult | How it works

Become a guardian so you can make personal decisions for someone.

If an adult isn’t capable of making decisions, they may be vulnerable. When you become a guardian, the court gives you legal authority to make personal decisions for them.

What’s important to know

  • If an adult has a personal directive, they don’t need a guardian.
  • You can apply now to be a guardian for someone who is 17 years old. Guardianship takes effect when they turn 18.
  • If the adult is able to make decisions with the support of a family member or friend, consider co-decision-making instead.

Learn more about co-decision-making

Watch a video about guardianship (Video: 1 min, 2.6 MB)

Guardians can make personal decisions on anything not related to money, such as:

  • where the adult lives
  • health care
  • education
  • legal affairs

The court may decide that you can make decisions in some but not necessarily all areas, depending on what the adult needs.

Guardians can’t make decisions about money but trustees can. You can apply to become both a trustee and a guardian.

Learn more about trusteeship

Apply to become a guardian and a trustee at the same time

Usually a family member or a friend applies to become a guardian (called a private guardian).

Apply to become a guardian

If no one is willing or available, the Public Guardian can become the guardian when it’s in the adult’s best interests. If you know someone who needs this support, complete the form below:

When you become a guardian, the court may ask to review the file again in the future.

Learn about guardianship review

Show Answer What's an example?

  • If your 17-year-old child has a significant developmental disability, they may not be capable of making decisions. You can apply to become their guardian so that when they turn 18, you can continue to make decisions about where they live, what activities they are involved in, etc.
  • If your parent has dementia, they might not be able to give legal consent for medical treatment. As their guardian, you can make decisions necessary to manage their care.
  • If you have a serious brain injury, you might not be able to make complicated medical decisions. If you don’t have a personal directive, a family member may have to apply to become your guardian so they could make health care decisions for you.
     

Show Answer How long does it take?

Once you submit a complete and accurate application, it usually takes three to six months before the paperwork is finalized and the court makes a decision.

If the situation is urgent, contact one of the agencies listed below or the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee. An urgent order can usually be approved within a week. The court appoints an interim guardian and gives them authority to make decisions for up to 90 days. They can’t continue to make decisions after that date.

Agencies that provide free help

Show Answer Is there a cost?

You need to get a capacity assessment done to determine whether the adult can make their own decisions.

Learn more about capacity assessments

You also pay a court filing fee of $250 when you submit your application.

If these costs are a financial hardship for you, contact the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee for more information.

If you use a lawyer to complete your application, they can charge legal fees.

Created:
Modified: 2016-06-21
PID: 17757