Adults typically manage their own personal and financial affairs. However, certain circumstances may arise where they can’t tend to their needs, prompting intervention for their safety. In such cases, emergency or temporary guardianship becomes pivotal.
In Michigan, the term “incapacitated individual” refers to an adult impaired due to reasons like mental or physical illness, chronic drug use, or other factors, leading to their inability to make informed decisions. The Michigan Estates and Protected Individuals Code (EPIC) provides a detailed legal definition.
Guardianship and its Alternatives in Michigan
If an adult has already set up valid powers of attorney, guardianship becomes unnecessary. This power delegates another person to make decisions in the event of incapacitation. However, without this setup, guardianship is the only legal avenue to decide on their behalf.
Guardianship needs usually surface over time, especially with conditions like dementia in elderly individuals. In such scenarios, a concerned party, such as a relative, can file a Petition for Appointment of Guardian of Incapacitated Individual with the local probate court.
The guardianship process in Michigan is rigorous to ensure that an individual’s rights are protected. It mandates scheduling a hearing, notifying all stakeholders, and the appointment of a guardian ad litem (GAL). This guardian’s role is to investigate the situation, interact with the individual in question, and convey their guardianship wishes to the court.
Typically, a few weeks elapse between petition filing and the hearing. This waiting period, necessary to safeguard individual rights, can be distressing for the affected person’s family.
Emergencies and the Need for Swift Action
In cases where incapacitation is sudden or emergencies arise, immediate action is essential, prompting the need for temporary guardianship. Michigan’s legal framework allows the assignment of a temporary guardian during emergencies. The involved individual must be notified of a petition for emergency guardianship, although some stakeholders might not be informed due to urgency.
The term “emergency” is not strictly outlined, relying on specific circumstances. Often, medical emergencies, such as immediate treatment needs for life-threatening conditions, necessitate such guardianship. For instance, an elderly person diagnosed with aggressive cancer, unable to comprehend the situation due to early dementia signs, may need an emergency guardian for prompt medical decision-making.
Beyond medical emergencies, situations like potential harm from abuse can also warrant emergency guardianship. For example, a senior with limited mental capabilities faces increasing abuse from a caretaker and is unable to seek help. In this situation, a concerned individual might file for temporary guardianship and also alert Adult Protective Services.
Criteria and Process for Emergency Guardianship
There are certain guidelines for when a temporary emergency guardianship is applicable. It is important to understand the criteria and process for this to take place. Below are a list of the three main criteria for a temporary emergency guardianship:
- The individual is legally incapacitated.
- There’s imminent risk, especially severe or permanent harm.
- No other practical solutions exist.
Securing an emergency guardianship doesn’t bypass the standard guardianship procedure. The guardian’s role is interim, meant to avert immediate danger, but a subsequent hearing must occur within 28 days, notifying all parties involved.
For a successful emergency guardianship petition, concrete evidence of the urgency and absence of alternatives is crucial. Supportive documents, like medical or social worker statements, can strengthen the claim. This is where it is prudent to enlist the assistance of an experienced Michigan guardianship attorney with experience in emergency guardianship situations to help navigate this intricate process effectively.