Guide to Legal Guardianship in Pennsylvania
November 23, 2021


Guardians are individuals, institutions, or agencies appointed by a court to manage another individual’s affairs. It goes without saying that being a guardian is an incredibly serious matter. Due to this, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about the entire process. This is easier said than done as guardianship can be quite complicated.

To help simplify things, we thought it would be useful to put together a brief run-through of the guardianship process. If this is something you want to learn more about, read on for our guide to guardianship in Pennsylvania.

Why Would a Person Need Guardianship?

In Pennsylvania, any person that is 18 years of age or older is deemed to be capable of managing their own affairs and making their own decisions. However, this changes if a court determines that an individual is incapacitated. For cases like this, the court has to appoint a guardian that will act on their behalf. While people often assume that guardianship is commonly applied to minors, many instances of guardianship involve incapacitated adults.

A person is deemed to be incapacitated if they are an adult whose ability to receive and evaluate information effectively has been hampered. Take note that the impairment has to reach a point wherein they are unable to manage their own financial resources and meet the essential requirement for their physical health and safety.

A person may need a Guardian of their Person, a Guardian of their Property, or both.

What Does Guardianship Entail?

Guardianship means obtaining the legal authority to make important decisions for another person. Guardians are also responsible for paying their wards’ bills, making their wards’ living arrangements, and overseeing their wards’ medical treatment. It’s also important to note that guardianship over adults lasts until it is deemed that the adult has regained the ability to take care of themselves.

Who is Allowed to be a Guardian?

In Pennsylvania, any qualified individual, whether it be a corporate fiduciary, nonprofit corporation, guardianship support agency, or county agency may be awarded guardianship. With that being said, there are caveats to this. The courts may not appoint a person or entity that has a conflict of interest with the incapacitated person. However, this can be disregarded if no other option exists.

How Does One Become a Guardian?

Before an individual can assume guardianship, they must first file a petition on behalf of the incapacitated individuals. This petition must elaborate on the purpose and seriousness of the proceedings. Petitioners are also required to give all the parties involved at least 20 days’ notice prior to the proposed hearing. This is so that all the interested parties will have an opportunity to object to the content of the petition.

Legal Assistance is Crucial to Elder Law 

Hopefully, this article has been useful when it comes to furthering your understanding of guardianship. As you can see, this is a pretty tricky matter to navigate. This is why legal assistance is key when it comes to guardianship in Pennsylvania. While it may be tempting to try and go through the process on your own, you’ll want to hire an experienced lawyer that can help you navigate the challenges that come with guardianship.

Are you looking for an ​​elder law attorney in Harrisburg, PA? We at Daley Zucker have got you covered. We are committed to the clients we represent and to our community, providing sound and ethical counsel. For more information on what we can do for you, visit our website today!




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