Occasionally, adults are unable to manage their personal affairs or finances. The inability to care for oneself may have begun at birth with some form of intellectual disability, or it may happen during the prime of life through catastrophic illness or injury or possibly during the golden years in the form of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Persons with such disabilities can often be a danger to themselves by leaving on a burning stove, wandering away from home, or just simply incapable of caring for themselves anymore. Others can be the targets of unscrupulous telemarketers or thieves who, if left to their own devices, would rob the victim of all that they own.
Kentucky law provides that if a person suffers from such a disability, a petition may be filed in District Court to determine if the respondent is disabled.
What is Guardianship?
Guardianship is a legal relationship between a capable adult (the guardian) and a ward, either a minor (a person under eighteen years old) or a legally disabled person. A legally disabled person is a person who has been found by a court to be unable to care for personal needs and/or unable to manage financial resources. At the same time a person is declared disabled by the court, another person—a guardian—is appointed to care for personal, medical and/or financial needs in those areas the disabled person cannot manage alone.
- A guardian may be given complete responsibility for the ward if the disabled person is unable to take care of personal needs.
- A limited guardian may be appointed if the disabled person is declared partially disabled and can care for some personal needs but may need help in other areas.
- A guardianship may be appointed if a disabled person only needs help managing financial affairs.
- A conservator may be appointed alone or in combination with a guardian to handle a disabled person’s financial affairs.
Contact my office for more information about the guardianship process and the duties and responsibilities of a guardian. This information is also contained in a packet in our office. “Disabled” as used in these proceedings is a legal, not a medical disability, and is measured by functional inabilities. It refers to a person 18 years of age or older who is: (a) unable to make informed decisions with respect to their personal affairs to such an extent that he/she lacks the capacity to provide for his physical health and safety, including but not limited to health care, food, shelter, clothing or personal hygiene; or (b) unable to make informed decisions as to his financial resources to such an extent that he lacks the capacity to manage his property effectively by those actions necessary to obtain, administer and dispose of both real and personal property.
Such inability must be evidenced by acts or occurrences within six months prior to the date of filing of the petition and cannot be evidenced solely by isolated instances of negligence, improvidence or other behavior. Kentucky law requires that a jury of six persons or bench trial (trial before the judge) try disability cases. The trial is a closed proceeding to respect the privacy of the respondent. The jury or Judge can find the Respondent wholly disabled in terms of managing his/her personal and financial affairs or partially disabled. Depending on the verdict of the jury, the court will appoint a guardian (a person who manages all of the affairs of the disabled person, much like a parent manages the affairs of their minor children) or conservator (a person who only manages the finances of the disabled person) to assist the Respondent. The guardian or conservator must periodically report to the court regarding the well-being of the Respondent.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have a loved one who might be disabled;
Please complete the form below and return to our office, you will then be scheduled to meet with someone who will discuss the guardianship process.
What do I need to bring with me?
You must know the Respondent’s full name, date of birth, social security number, the names of all siblings and parents, the amount and source of any income the respondent has, as well as a listing of any valuable personal property owned by the Respondent.
Will I have to testify?
A person familiar with the abilities and day to day life of the respondent will have to testify at trial. Typically, questioning is non-confrontational. A social worker with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services will also testify.
Download the form below or if you have questions or require additional information, call 270-358-9223.