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FAQs About Your Role as a Guardian Under Michigan Law

After you have gone through the legal proceedings to obtain the authority to act on behalf of an incapacitated person, you might expect that the main part of the Michigan guardianship process is complete. Your petition was filed, the court found that the person needs assistance with care and decision making, and you were appointed as the legal guardian of the incapacitated individual. However, being appointed as a legal guardian is just the beginning of your responsibilities. Your new authority comes with ongoing obligations, both to the incapacitated individual and to the court.

As such, one of your initial inquiries may be: “What is my role as a guardian under Michigan law?” The answer is complex, especially considering how the relevant statutes hold you accountable for your actions. A Michigan elder law attorney can provide you with specific details, but answers to some common questions may provide clarity.

What decisions am I responsible for making as a guardian? Every situation is unique to the individual in need of care, but there are four general duties for a guardian. The guardian must ensure that the individual:

  • Lives in appropriate and reasonable accommodations;
  • Has basic needs met, including food and clothing;
  • Gets proper medical care for health and well-being; and
  • Enjoys overall safety and protection.

Will I handle all health care and medical decision making? You may not manage all aspects of the individual’s medical needs if you are a limited guardian and the court has excluded decision making in this area. In addition, if the individual executed a patient advocate designation, the advocate has the power to handle medical needs – not the guardian.

How is a guardianship different from a conservatorship? The general difference is that a conservator has authority to make decisions regarding finances and assets. The power of a guardian extends to health care and medical decision making. You could be appointed by the court to act with respect to both of these roles if the individual is found by the court to need assistance with both aspects.

Do I need to go back to court after the initial appointment? The court retains jurisdiction over you as the guardian to ensure you comply with your ongoing duties. The primary duty of a guardian is ensure that the needs of the individual are appropriately being met. This is evidenced to the court through the guardian’s completion and filing of an annual report, which details the individual’s health and wellbeing status. This duty does not require a hearing. Unless an interested party files a complaint with the court, you do not generally go back before the court.

Our Team at the Nawrocki Center for Elder Law Can Provide You with Guidance

At the Nawrocki Center for Elder Law, our attorneys are knowledgeable in the appointment process, as well as the ongoing duties of guardians under Michigan law. We can assist you with the initial petition process and offer advice and counsel on how to meet the legal requirements, so you can act with confidence that you are in compliance with the statutes governing your position. For more information, please call 810-893-5277 or go online to set up a consultation with a member of our team.


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