Things to Consider When Contemplating a Guardianship Dispute
In guardianship disputes, unlike other estate litigation, you are dealing with a living person, whose needs and wishes must be kept in mind at all times. For this reason, thorough contemplation of how to approach the case is important to undertake at the outset.
Felice Kirsh recommended some early considerations to keep in mind at the 10th Annual Estates and Trusts Summit, which include the following:
- Think before you start – A guardianship application is a drastic step. Even a consent application will be scrutinized by a judge and medical evidence will likely be required, as the court is trying to protect a vulnerable person who, in effect, is having his/her independence taken away.
- Representation of the incapable person – The incapable person is deemed to have capacity to retain and instruct counsel (section 3(1)(b) Substitute Decisions Act). If this is not addressed at the outset by counsel, the court will often order representation for the incapable person prior to dealing with the substantive issues.
- ADR Options – It may be possible to resolve a guardianship dispute (relating to a person over 18 years of age) by having him/her sign a new Power of Attorney. Other means for resolving such disputes are for the parties to agree to attend a family meeting or mediation as early in the process as possible.
Given the cost and emotional nature of guardianship litigation, I hope these points provide helpful reminders of the caution that should be exercised in these matters.
Have a good day,