This is the next post in a series of articles discussing guardianships for adult residents of Hartford, Connecticut who have intellectual disabilities. Our previous post discussed the process of establishing an adult guardianship through the Probate Court. The individual petitioning the Court must request the appointment as guardian. They must also be prepared to demonstrate at a hearing that the respondent’s intellectual disability renders them incapable of caring for themselves or making informed decisions about their care. Depending upon the condition of the protected person, the Court may appoint a limited or plenary guardian to supervise certain aspects of their lives. In this article, we will discuss the rights and responsibilities of adult guardians. If you or a loved one needs assistance with the guardianship process, contact our office to speak with an attorney.
Guardians of adults with intellectual disabilities may be granted the authority to make some or all of the following decisions on the protected person’s behalf:
- To choose a residence for the individual outside of the family home;
- To select educational, vocational, or behavioral programs for the individual;
- To authorize the release of medical records or photographs;
- To make decisions regarding routine, elective, or emergency medical or dental care; and
- To participate in other services necessary to help the individual develop or regain the ability to meet essential requirements to make such decisions on their own to the extent possible.
Limited guardians will be given the power to make only those decisions deemed necessary by the Court while plenary guardians will have all of the powers listed above. Connecticut law places specific limitations on guardians as well. For instance, guardians may not admit the protected person to an institution, consent to sterilization, consent to termination of the individual’s parental rights, or prohibit their marriage or divorce.
Individuals appointed as guardians of an adult are fiduciaries who owe legal duties to those for whom they provide care. They must carry out their responsibilities ethically and are required to act in the protected person’s best interest. They may not make decisions that are outside of the scope of their specified authority. Guardians must consult with, to the extent possible, the protected person when making choices on their behalf. Connecticut law imposes a duty on guardians to ensure the care and comfort of the individual within the scope of their powers. Further, guardians are required to report at least annually to the Probate Court on the condition of the protected individual and to identify any existing problems with the arrangement. Guardians who fail to comply with these restrictions or uphold their duties may be removed by the Court and may face civil or criminal charges. For the protection of the disabled individual, the Court will carefully review these matters and the guardian’s actions on a regular basis.
We understand that acting as a guardian can present questions and challenges. Our attorneys can assist you when such matters arise. Contact our Hartford office to speak with a lawyer. We also serve the areas of Wethersfield, New Britain, Rocky Hill, West and East Hartford, Bristol, Glastonbury, and Manchester, as well as the Middlesex County cities of Middletown and Cromwell.