Alabama law presumes that all people, age 19 or older, are capable of making decisions for themselves unless and until a court decides otherwise. Having a court render such a decision requires “due process” before any freedom to live your own life, and make your own decisions, can be removed.
In the State of Alabama one may file a petition for conservator and/or guardianship over a mentally incapacitated adult who has been properly diagnosed with a mental disability. Typically, an appointment with an appropriate medical care professional will provide the necessary diagnosis if one has not already been provided. If the court grants the petition, the incapacitated person becomes the “ward” of the petitioner and the petitioner becomes the “guardian” and/or the “conservator” of the ward.
Typically, a petition for conservatorship and guardianship would be filed together in probate court. If the ward needs one of the two, (s)he needs the other. The conservatorship documents give the petitioner (typically the grown child of an elderly parent) the legal authority to take care of the ward’s finances and make necessary decisions relating to the ward’s estate. The guardianship documents give the petitioner the legal authority to take care of the “person” (ie; make medical decisions, have access to medical documents, etc.) on behalf of the ward.
The easiest way to “conceptualize” this concept is this: If the relationship includes an adult child and an elderly parent, this process essentially “flips” their relationship. In other words, the parent becomes the child and the child becomes the parent. When the petitions are granted, the conservator/guardian would be responsible for all decisions related to the finances and care of the incapable person.
If you or a loved one are seeking to gain conservator or guardianship in Huntsville, Athens, Decatur, Madison or a surrounding area – contact an elder law attorney from our team to schedule a consultation. During your initial consultation – a lawyer from our team will meet with you to answer any questions and develop a strategic plan for your case.
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