If you would like to be appointed the guardian over an adult, there are a number of forms you must fill out to open a case. The forms will tell the judge about you, anyone who wants to be a co-guardian with you, the person you are asking to be the guardian over, and the reason the guardianship is needed. Read on for more information about the forms you must complete and how to open a case.
Before You Begin
Guardianship cases can be difficult to navigate on your own. There are many court rules and requirements you must follow to succeed in a guardianship case. If you do not follow the rules and requirements, your case could be delayed or even dismissed!
Before filing for guardianship, it is very important to read through every article in the Guardianship Overview section of this website so you understand the concepts involved. If you decide you need legal help to file your case, you can find out where to get legal assistance by visiting Find Legal Help.
Once you are familiar with the legal concepts and are ready to file a case, please read and follow the steps below
Step 1. Complete the Guardianship Papers
To open a guardianship case, you will need to complete these forms:
- Civil Court Cover Sheet (required)
- Confidential Information Sheet (required)
- Petition for Appointment of Guardian (required)
- Citation to Appear and Show Cause (required)
- Certificate of Incapacity (required, but can be filed later)
Civil Court Cover Sheet
One or two people can ask to be named the guardians over an adult. This form asks for basic information about you, any person who wants to be a co-guardian with you, and the person over whom you are asking to be the guardian. You are the Petitioner and any proposed co-guardian is the Co-Petitioner.
Confidential Information Sheet
The proposed guardians must provide some form of identification for themselves and the person over whom the guardianship is requested. You can provide a copy of each person's driver's license, passport, or social security card (or other types listed on the form). This form must be completed to let the court know what identification you are providing, and a copy of the identification must be attached.
The proposed guardians' information is required when you file, and the proposed protected person's identification must be filed within 120 days after the appointment of guardian if it is not immediately available. This information is filed confidentially and is not available to the public.
Petition for Appointment of Guardian
This form tells the court who is asking to be named the guardian and why. The person asking to be the guardian is the "proposed guardian/petitioner." If a second person is asking to be a co-guardian, that person is the "proposed second guardian/co-petitioner." The person over whom the guardianship is requested is the "proposed protected person." All sections must be completed. If something does not apply, write "n/a" in that section.
You must mark on the first page what type of guardianship you are asking for. Typically, people ask for a "general guardianship" if the adult is incapacitated or completely unable to take care of himself, or a "special guardianship" if the adult has limited capacity to make some, but not all decisions necessary for his or her own care.
Within those categories, you can ask to be the guardian over the "person" (to make medical/personal decisions), the "estate" (to make financial decisions), or the "person and estate" (to make medical/personal/financial decisions).
Citation to Appear and Show Cause
All adult guardianships require a hearing in front of a judge. This form sets a court date for your request to be named the guardian. Fill out every section except for the "Date and Time of Court Appearance" (that part will be filled out by the court clerk when you file your papers).
Certificate of Incapacity
This form is usually completed by a doctor, and tells the judge about the proposed protected person's medical condition. It also may excuse the proposed protected person from attending the hearing. This form must be filed at least one week before the court date, if you are not able to file it with the other papers immediately. The Certificate of Incapacity needs to be filed confidentially. To do this, you must also complete and file the Confidential Medical/Educational Documents form along with the Certificate of Incapacity.
The adult over whom you are asking to be named the guardian is normally required to attend the court hearing with you. If the person is not able to attend the hearing, someone who is not part of the case will have to let the person know about the guardianship proceedings. Whoever speaks with the proposed protected person about this must complete an additional form (the "Admonishment of Rights") to let the court know the person's response. More information about this can be found on the Guardianship Hearing page.
Step 2. File the Guardianship Papers
After you fill out the papers above, you will need to file them with the district court in your county. Visit Find My Court if you are not sure where your local district court is located.
The fee for filing guardianship forms is $5.00 for estates that are over $2,500.00. If the estate is less than $2,500.00, there is no filing fee.
If you cannot afford the filing fee, please see Filing Fees and Waivers to find out how to ask the court to waive the fee.
Once the case is filed, the judge is required to appoint an attorney to represent the adult you are seeking to be the guardian over. The attorney will participate in all aspects of the case to represent the adult's wishes.
Next Step: Serve the Relatives and Required Agencies
After you complete the steps on this page, a copy of the Petition and the Citation must be served on the proposed protected person's relatives and possibly some other agencies. The Court does not serve the papers for you. It is up to YOU to make sure all of the required people are served after you file for guardianship. After you have completed the steps on this page, learn all about how to have the relatives and required agencies served by visiting the Serving the Relatives page.