man in his 30s with father in his 60s

Appointing a Guardian Under Kentucky Law

By Joshua Berkley

While not a pleasant topic of discussion, circumstances sometimes arise where a loved one is no longer able to take care of themselves or manage their own affairs.  When that occurs, you might find yourself contemplating whether having a court appoint a guardian is appropriate.  If you determine this might be beneficial, the issue becomes how you would do so and what factors you should consider in the process. Being appointed as a guardian by the court means that you or another individual would be legally stepping in to help someone unable to make decisions due to age, illness, or other incapacity. It is not just about making decisions for someone else but also about respecting their rights. There are specific rules and processes in Kentucky for being appointed as a guardian.

Appointing a guardian in Kentucky is typically a legal process undertaken when an individual cannot manage their affairs due to incapacity, disability, or minority. The chosen guardian will be responsible for making decisions regarding the person’s care, comfort, and maintenance, and often includes managing their financial affairs.  

Types of Guardianships in Kentucky

There are different types of guardianships in Kentucky. A full guardian/conservator is responsible for the client’s personal and financial affairs. A personal guardian is responsible for only the private affairs of the client.  A conservator may be appointed if the disabled person only needs help with managing financial or fiduciary affairs. Some states might use the terms conservator and guardian interchangeably, but the terms mean different things in Kentucky. There is also something known as limited guardianship in Kentucky, where the guardian receives specific powers and responsibilities. The court may appoint a limited guardian if the disabled person is declared partially disabled and can manage some personal needs but may need assistance with others. In this case, the court will also decide which civil rights the person can retain and which to give to the guardian.

The Guardianship Appointment Process

Appointing a guardian begins with someone filing a petition in the district court where the individual lives. The petitioner can be a family member, friend, or interested party. For adults, a medical evaluation often establishes the individual’s incapacity. The court then sets a hearing date and gives notice of the hearing to the individual and other interested parties. During the hearing, the court evaluates the evidence and determines whether guardianship is necessary and, if so, who the guardian should be.  The court considers several factors when choosing a guardian, including the incapacitated person’s wishes (if known), the relationship between the guardian and the individual, the guardian’s ability to manage the individual’s affairs, and any potential conflicts of interest.

Guardian Duties and Ongoing Management

Once appointed, the guardian has various duties, including managing the property, making decisions about their care and living arrangements, and ensuring their overall well-being. The guardian must also report to the court regularly about the individual’s status and the management of their affairs and finances.

Given the significant legal and personal implications of a guardianship arrangement, it is often advisable for both the potential guardian and the individuals needing the guardianship to have legal representation. Remember that guardianship in Kentucky can be modified or terminated if the individual’s condition changes, such as if an incapacitated adult regains capacity.

Contact a Kentucky Guardianship Attorney for Help

Each guardianship case is unique, and the legal proceedings can be complex. Consulting with an attorney experienced in guardianship cases in Kentucky is crucial to help understand the specific legal requirements and to ensure the best interests of the person needing a guardian. Berkley Oliver PLLC has dedicated attorneys who are knowledgeable and will help you through the guardianship process with compassion and understanding every step of the way. Contact Berkley Oliver for your guardianship needs.

About the Author
Josh Berkley is an attorney and owner at Berkley Oliver PLLC who helps individuals implement plans to protect their assets and their loved ones. Josh focuses his practice in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate, and Elder Law.  From assisting young parents in making a plan to provide for their children, to helping senior clients qualify for Medicaid, Josh works with clients to create estate plans and life plans tailored to each person’s specific goals. He also helps clients with a wide variety of important legal documents such Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate Designations, and Living Wills. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Josh here.