FindLaw defines a guardian as "someone who makes legal decisions for another person, called a ward, who is unable to make those decisions on [his or her] own." Experts at Curley Law Firm LLP have assisted many Massachusetts residents who, for reasons outside of their control, have needed to establish guardianship in the best interest of a friend or loved one.
According to FindLaw, when a child's parents have passed away or become unfit to function in their role, a court may establish a guardian for the child. When wards are old enough, they may have a say in who becomes responsible for their well-being. Ideally, the caretaker is someone familiar: a family member, neighbor or longtime friend. If the courts have given you the privilege of acting as guardian on behalf of a minor, it is important for you to know your legal responsibilities.
Primarily, you are to prioritize the child's care. Make room in your life and adjustments in your schedule so the ward does not feel like the label sounds. After all, the word "ward" often connotes a runaway, someone who is trying his or her best to escape. As a guardian, however, you want the child to feel a sense of safety rather than a need for rescue.
Beyond the emotional refuge you offer to the minor in your care, FindLaw suggests additional responsibilities:
- Protect the child's personal property
- Enroll school-age children in the appropriate grade level
- Establish your address as the minor's legal residence
If the child is due any public assistance benefits, you should plan to apply for those on his or her behalf. For more information on guardianship, visit our webpage.