ARAG LEGAL PLANS ACCEPTED
ARAG LEGAL PLANS ACCEPTED
A guardian is a person appointed by the probate court to make personal decisions, such as decisions about medical treatment and place of residence, for an individual (deemed an incapacitated individual) who lacks the capacity or understanding to make those decisions. Incapacitated individual is defined “an individual who is impaired by reason of mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication, or other cause, not including minority, to the extent of lacking sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate informed decisions.” MCL 700.1105(a).
A guardian is responsible for arranging the ward’s care, custody, comfort, maintenance, and medical care and, when appropriate, the ward’s training and education. MCL 700.5314. The guardian must seek to restore the ward to the best possible state of mental and physical well-being so that the ward can return to self-management as soon as possible. MCL 700.5314(b). The guardian has a duty to consult with the ward, if meaningful communication is possible, before making any major decision affecting the ward. MCL 700.5314. The guardian determines the individual’s place of residence and must notify the court within 14 days of a change in the ward’s place of residence or a change in the guardian’s place of residence. MCL 700.5314(a). The guardian should visit the ward on a regular basis. MCL 700.5314(a) requires that, at a minimum, the guardian must visit the ward within three months after the guardian’s appointment and not less than once within three months after each previous visit.
If the guardian is entitled to custody of the ward, the guardian must take reasonable care of the ward’s clothing, furniture, vehicles, and other personal effects and commence a protective proceeding if necessary. MCL 700.5314(b).
If the guardian is managing any money or property belonging to the ward, the guardian must maintain complete financial records of all transactions on behalf of the ward so that the guardian can document that all funds coming into the guardian’s possession were spent on behalf of the ward. The guardian should also maintain records of their activities on behalf of the ward and records of medical and other services provided to the ward. These records will prove very useful if an action by the guardian is later questioned by a family member or another person.
The guardian should become familiar with services available to older adults and persons with disabilities in the local community. The website for the Michigan Behavioral and Physical Health and Aging Services Administration has a wealth of information on services for seniors. A local area agency on aging can be a good starting point for accessing information, referrals, and other services for older adults; and a local center for independent living can serve a similar function for younger persons with disabilities. A local senior center can also be a valuable source of information on services available to seniors. An individual with developmental disabilities is likely to be receiving services through the local Community Mental Health Services program. The guardian should become familiar with the range of services that are available to individuals with mental illness or developmental disabilities and seek additional services for the ward if necessary.