In a series of posts, we’ve been exploring how those faced with the difficult reality of having loved ones who are no longer able to care for themselves either physically or financially will often find themselves exploring whether it’s perhaps time to secure a guardianship and/or a conservatorship.

In today’s post, our blog will continue this discussion, examining how the law in Georgia has set forth some restrictions on who can serve as a guardian. 

What are the restrictions on who can be appointed a guardian under state law?

Georgia has set forth some restrictions on who can be appointed to serve as a guardian. First and foremost, only individuals can fill this role, meaning no institutions or groups of people can be appointed by the court to make decisions relating to the personal health and safety of an incapacitated individual.

Furthermore, minors and protected persons cannot serve in this role, while those with conflicts of interests with a proposed ward also cannot serve in this role absent court approval.

Finally, owners, operators and employees of caregiving institutions and long-term care facilities tasked with taking care of a proposed ward cannot serve as guardians unless they happened to be related by blood, adoption or marriage.

Do the courts give any sort of preference as to who should be appointed guardian?

Yes. There is actually an enumerated list outlining an order of preference that Georgia courts will consider when appointing a guardian for a proposed ward. It breaks down as follows:

  1. A person previously named in writing by the proposed ward
  2. A spouse or person nominated by the spouse
  3. An adult child or person nominated by the adult child
  4. A parent or person nominated by the parent
  5. A guardian who was appointed while the proposed ward was a minor
  6. A guardian previously appointed in Georgia or another state
  7. A relative, friend or other individual
  8. A person found both suitable and appropriate who is otherwise willing to fill the role
  9. The county guardian

It’s important to understand that the court is legally bound to appoint a guardian who will best protect the wellbeing of a proposed ward. What this means is that it can actually appoint someone lower on the list of preferences if it believes that such a move would be in the proposed ward’s best interests.

We will continue to examine this topic in future posts.

Please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have questions or concerns about guardianships, conservatorships or other estate planning matters.