When concern arises around the ability of an adult to care for himself, this may be the time to consider establishing adult guardianship for this individual. While the law favors “the least restrictive alternative” to a guardian appointment, there are times when the legal process of establishing adult guardianship is the best option. It is important to understand adult guardianship law in Kentucky and seek guidance to navigate this process. The Kentucky Guardianship Association (KGA) is a nonprofit membership organization committed to improving adult guardianship in Kentucky and it is a great ongoing resource for families who are considering seeking adult guardianship for a loved one. The KGA website @ www.kyguardianship.org is a great source of information on adult guardianship law and an opportunity for networking with others who share the common interest in adult guardianship. When you view the video on our Resources page you will have a basic understanding of adult guardianship. Following up with our downloadable manual, Kentucky Guardianship Manual, you will be off to a great start in understanding the criteria used for determining disability and how adult guardianship works.
The decision to seek adult guardianship for a loved one is emotionally challenging. While we regret recognizing that someone is no longer able to handle their personal matters independently, it is important to spare that individual from physical harm and exploitation. Establishing adult guardianship in Kentucky requires that an individual be determined disabled. 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.
Kentucky is the only state at the current time that requires a disability determination trial to be held. Due to the sensitive nature of establishing guardianship, all matters related to this process are confidential. An Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) is appointed prior to the trial to examine the Respondent with regard to medical condition, mental capacity, ability to function socially and ability to provide for property and perform customary daily activities. The IDT team must agree in their determination of disability or the trial does not go forward. The jury, having been presented clear and convincing evidence, will determine the presence and extent of disability. If the Respondent is determined disabled, the judge must appoint a guardian.
The judge will determine the responsibilities of the guardian based upon the disability findings and will monitor this routinely. Adult guardianship law requires numerous reports to be filed and guardians will find the resources at www.kyguardianship.org to be great guidance for compliance. If you are considering adult guardianship for someone, tapping into the resources at the Kentucky Guardianship Association will assist you to navigate this process successfully. The responsibilities assigned to an adult guardian are many, but the rewards of doing this well are gratifying.