If you are concerned about a loved one who you suspect may no longer be able to manage their welfare and health affairs, you may want to consider establishing guardianship for this person. Guardianship in Kentucky offers protection to persons who are not capable of taking care of themselves and are at risk of harm or exploitation. The decision to seek guardianship in Kentucky for a disabled adult can be difficult, often emotional, and needs to be handled with sensitivity and discretion. Whether you are the Petitioner seeking guardianship for a person in need, a lawyer dealing with a guardianship matter, a social worker or other professional on the Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) that gathers evidence to assist a determination of disability, the Kentucky Guardianship Association (KGA) is a helpful resource. Its website, www.kyguardianship.org, provides a video with up-to-date information along with a downloadable handbook, the Kentucky Guardianship Manual, that details the guardianship in Kentucky process from start to finish. The law and process for guardianship in Kentucky is defined in Chapter 387 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes.
Establishing guardianship in Kentucky hinges on the determination of disability. This process begins with a Petition filed in the District Court where the person who may need a guardian resides. The person who may need guardianship is referred to as the Respondent and the person filing the case is the Petitioner. This process moves with the assistance of the District Court Clerk, an office that handles all guardianship matters. While the District Court Clerk is not a lawyer, this office is trained to help the Petitioner understand what is needed to be done and to help the Petitioner monitor the case as it proceeds. Some of the larger counties in Kentucky have a Mental Health Clerk who does this work. Due to the sensitive nature of establishing guardianship, all matters related to this process are confidential.
After a petition is filed, the Respondent will be scheduled for an examination by an Interdisciplinary Team (IDT), comprised of a physician, a psychologist and a social worker. The medical condition, mental capacity and ability to function socially and provide for their property and perform customary daily activities will be assessed. The Commonwealth of Kentucky requires a guardian trial by jury in all guardianship cases and if the experts do not all agree in their evaluation, the petition for disability may not proceed to trial.
During the guardianship trial the jury must decide, based upon clear and convincing evidence, if the person is disabled and that a guardian should be appointed for the Respondent. In order for a guardian to be appointed, the evidence presented in the guardian trial will be weighed by the jury as they determine full disability, partial disability, or that the Respondent is not disabled, in which case a guardian will not be appointed. The jury also determines the specific areas where the Respondent needs assistance.
The judge will determine the responsibilities given to the guardian and appoint the guardian (full or limited). The responsibilities of guardianship in Kentucky are explicitly defined and monitored routinely. Numerous reports are required to be filed. The Kentucky Guardianship Association is a nonprofit membership organization committed to improving adult guardianship in Kentucky and it is a great ongoing resource for families, lawyers, professionals serving on an Interdisciplinary Team and individuals who have been appointed by the court to serve as a guardian or are interested in becoming guardians. Resources include guardian law training for social workers and attorneys. For more information, visit our website at www.kyguardianship.org. It is much easier to navigate guardian law when you partner with the resources at Kentucky Guardianship Association.