Rights & Duties of Wards & Guardians

Duties & Powers of the Guardian
The guardian has the duties and powers reasonably necessary to provide adequately for the support, care, education, and well-being of the ward from the ward's assets or public assistance, as necessary, even to the extent of participating in legal proceedings where appropriate or advisable. Subject to some restrictions, the guardian may give medical consent for the ward and generally may establish a ward's abode. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act has been interpreted under certain circumstances to require that a ward receive care in the least restrictive setting necessary.

A guardian of the person shall respect and maintain the individual rights and dignity of the ward at all times. The guardian shall be reasonably accessible to the ward and shall maintain regular communication with the ward. A status report describing the ward's general condition, living situation, progress, development, and needs, plus any recommendations for changes in the guardianship, must be filed four months after appointment and every year (annually) on the anniversary of the guardian's appointment.

Upon order from the court, a guardian of the property may sell, lease, encumber, or exchange property of the ward for payment of the ward's debts, for support and education of the ward or dependents of the ward, or for reinvestment. The guardian of the property must file both an inventory with the court four months after appointment and thereafter an annual return accounting for income received and expenditures made on the ward's behalf. The guardian of the property is entitled to commissions for what he or she has received and paid out. All guardians must file a petition in court to obtain permission to perform any act not specifically authorized.

Rights of the Ward
Georgia recognizes that making personal decisions is the most basic of rights. By law, no person is presumed to be incapacitated and, out of respect for a person's dignity, the right to make any decision cannot be casually removed. Hence, a ward retains those rights not removed by statute as well as those rights the court specifically exempts because it finds their removal unnecessary.

In all cases, a ward cannot be denied any civil, political, personal, or property right without due process of law. The ward has the right to communicate freely and privately with others. His or her property must be used for his or her support, care, education, and well-being. The ward also has a right to petition to have the guardianship modified or terminated or to claim a right or privilege that has been unjustly denied.

If less intrusive means are unavailable, a guardianship can be an appropriate device to provide for substituted decision-making on behalf of an incapacitated adult. Georgia law recognizes the dignity of all human persons by authorizing the removal of decision-making abilities only to the extent necessitated by the limitations of the ward. Guardians, accordingly, have special duties to the ward and to the court. The ward retains all rights not removed and can petition the court to have his or her right to make decisions restored. When the law and its spirit are followed, a guardianship can be a relationship that can help fulfill and educate the ward and the guardian as well.