Guardianship of Adults: Guardianship Process

Guardianship of Adults: Guardianship Process - #87

Take Quiz

Elderly patients in inpatient or outpatient settings with potential neurocognitive impairment.

Understand the general process of assigning guardianship

Guardianship is the court’s appointment of legal authority over the person and property of another individual, called the ward.  In assigning guardianship, the court makes a ruling as to the competence of an individual.  Guardianship allows for:

  • the making of decisions for a person who is unable to make them for him/herself
  • the exercising of rights that the person cannot exercise for him/herself
  • protecting and advocating for the individual’s best interests
  • protecting the individual from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and violation of legal rights


This authority is assigned through the judicial system, distinguishing it from a designated “Power of Attorney” (POA). In designating a POA, an individual cedes rights or responsibilities, under specific circumstances, to a person of their choosing while they are capable of making such a decision.

1. Define purpose and types of guardianship

2. Explain the standards for incompetence

3. List the steps in the guardianship process

Guardianship of Adults.  Department of Health Services, State of Wisconsin.  Division of Long Term Care.  P-20460 (06/2011). 

This GFF ___ my competence in geriatrics.

Steven Denson, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin