Adult guardianship is a legal procedure in which a court of law determines that a person (age 65 or over) has disabilities which impair the person’s ability to make informed decisions, that the person is in need of protection, and that there is no less restrictive alternative. Guardianship is a way for the state, in form of the court, to enter into the life of an older adult to ensure that the person’s basic needs are met.
The Allegany County Area Agency on Aging (AAA) acts as guardian of last resort for such individuals, after all other higher priority alternatives have been exhausted. The guardian/designee takes an active part in the person’s life, providing case management services and advocating to meet his/her needs. Those services include but are not limited to health care intervention, arranging for legal representation and care coordination.
Prior to filing a guardianship petition, two physicians must certify that the person is incapable of making decisions. Both physicians must have examined the person and made a medical judgment regard the person’s mental capacity prior to completing the certificates. These certifications may become evidence in the case, or the doctors may be witnesses who testify in the case.