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Kentucky Guardianship Laws

Kentucky Guardianship Laws define the criteria &legal process for determining that an adult qualifies for guardianship.Kentucky Guardianship Laws clearly define the criteria for determining that an adult qualifies for the appointment of a Guardian or Conservator and the legal process through the court system. If you are concerned about an adult managing their private affairs, these are some of the questions which you may be asking:

  • Is this person able to provide adequately for his personal needs for physical health, food, clothing and shelter?
  • Is this person able to manage his financial resources effectively?
  • Is this person going to be taken advantage of if no one is appointed to act on his behalf?
  • Is assistance available through means other than guardianship or conservatorship?

Given the response to these questions, you may decide that it is time to seek a solution for this person. While it is always good to seek the least restrictive means to solve this dilemma, in the event that guardianship is considered the best option,  Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS), Chapter 387, provides the law and process, beginning the with determination of legal disability, whether full or partial.  Kentucky guardianship laws are explicit on the process of determining disability and guardianship appointment. When an adult is found lacking in ability to handle certain matters, this disability allows the court to appoint someone who can help manage at least a portion of their daily affairs.

Kentucky guardianship laws mandate that the person raising concern over the welfare of an individual file a petition with the District Court in which the individual needing help resides. The individual filing is known as the Petitioner and the person for whom there is concern is referred to as the Respondent. Generally speaking in Kentucky, an assistant District Court Clerk will handle guardianship matters, although some of the larger counties in Kentucky have a Mental Health Clerk. While this Clerk is not an attorney, they have a depth of expertise that can help you to understand what is needed and help you to monitor the movement of the case. Due to the sensitive nature of establishing guardianship, all matters related to guardianship cases are confidential. The Petitioner does not need an attorney but may hire one if so inclined. The Judge will appoint legal counsel to represent the Respondent if the individual cannot afford or does not have an attorney.

Kentucky guardianship law requires that upon the filing of a Petition,the Judge schedule the Respondent for an examination by an Interdisciplinary Evaluation Team (IDT). Comprised of a physician, a psychologist and a social worker, this team will review medical records, living arrangements and possibly interview others who know the Respondent. As the only state in the U.S. requiring a trial by jury (six individuals), a jury will hear evidence and decide whether the Respondent has a legal disability, based upon mental and physical ability, to make functionally informed decisions regarding personal matters, health care and finance. Kentucky Guardianship Law requires the jury to determine the extent of the Respondent's disability and the specific areas where help is needed.

When the jury determines the presence and extent of legal disability, the judge is given the responsibility through Kentucky guardianship laws to appoint a guardian (full or partial) and determine the responsibilities of the guardian. Kentucky guardianship laws are prescriptive on the reporting responsibilities of a guardian and training is available for compliance with these requirements.

At the Kentucky Guardianship Association, we understand that it is a challenge to work one's way  through Kentucky Guardianship laws for disability determination and appointment of a guardian. It is easier to navigate Kentucky guardianship law when you partner with the resources at Kentucky Guardianship Association. Our meetings and trainings assist our membership to understand Kentucky Guardianship law and provide continuing education for the various disciplines that have a role in guardianship. Visit our website at and watch our video with its easy-to-understand overview of Kentucky guardianship law.