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Court Ordered Guardianship

Court ordered guardianship is an option when people recognize that a loved one is struggling with health & welfare.Court Ordered Guardianship is a valuable option for families or friends when they are recognizing that a loved one is unable to provide for their health and welfare.  Situations present in which it becomes clear that concern for this person to function independently is warranted and when this occurs, the court provides for a guardianship petition that carefully examines the individual's life circumstances and makes a thoroughly considered decision.

The Kentucky Guardianship Association  (KGA) is a non-profit membership organization committed to improving adult guardianship in Kentucky. It is an excellent resource to assist with understanding what guardianship is, the issues relevant to determining guardianship, the process, the role and the requirements of a guardian once appointed.  When you visit the KGA website at, we invite you to watch the video for an overview of guardian law in Kentucky. You can download a manual prepared by the KGA titled Kentucky Guardianship Manual that provides helpful detail on the who, what, when, where and how of guardianship in the Commonwealth.

Kentucky is unique in requiring a trial by jury, assuring a fair process for awarding guardianship.  Due to the sensitive nature, guardian law in Kentucky requires that guardianship cases are confidential. Prior to the actual appointment of a guardian, guardian law calls for a series of steps to occur:

  • A petition is filed in the District Court where the person being considered for guardianship resides.  This individual who may need guardianship is referred to as the Respondent. Larger counties in Kentucky have a Mental Health Clerk that will work with 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.
  • An evaluation is done by an Interdisciplinary Team consisting of a physician who will do the medical evaluation, a psychologist who will assess mental capacity and a social worker who will review the Respondent's social environment and ability to function.
  • A hearing is held before a judge and jury and the jury, when presented with clear and convincing evidence, makes the decision on disability, a determination of disability being required in order to appoint a guardian.
  • Guardianship is deemed appropriate when it is determined that the Respondent is disabled or partially disabled. If it is determined that the Respondent is not disabled, a guardian will not be appointed.

Based upon the decision of the jury, the judge will select the guardian and clarify the limits on the power of the guardian. When a judge appoints a guardian, there are several questions that are taken into consideration:

  • What is the relationship between the person under consideration and the Respondent?
  • What is the person's work situation, financial ability and education?
  • What is the person's ability to fulfill the demands of this important responsibility?

Guardianship is a much-needed tool for care of the disabled and can provide peace of mind to families caring for a loved one. At the Kentucky Guardianship Association we understand the difficult emotional and legal challenges faced when considering  guardianship for a loved one. It is easier to navigate guardian law when you partner with the resources at Kentucky Guardianship Association, starting with a visit to our website @