If you have a parent or other elderly loved one who is showing signs of being unable to safely care for himself/herself it may be time to consider filing for guardianship. Making the decision to seek guardianship over a parent, in particular, is not easy at it often feels like you are taking away his or her independence. Keep in mind, however, that failing to do so could result in serious harm to your parent or could allow your parent to become the target of those who prey on the elderly and disabled. Once you have made the decision to seek guardianship you will need to know how to file for guardianship in South Carolina. Because each situation is unique it is always best to consult with your South Carolina estate planning attorney before moving forward; however, the following provides a basic overview of the steps required when filing for guardianship in South Carolina.
Filing the Petition – a Petition for Guardianship must be filed with the appropriate Probate Court and a filing fee paid. The Petition will specify who is asking to be appointed as guardian as well as the basis for the need for a guardian.
Appointment of Examiners – the court will appoint two “examiners”, one of whom must be a physician. They will examine the proposed ward (your parent or the individual you allege is in need of a guardian) to determine if he or she is incapacitated.
Appointment of Visitor and Guardian Ad Litem – the court will also appoint a “visitor” and a “guardian ad litem” or GAL. The “visitor is required to go and “visit” with the ward and provide the court with and opinion as to the necessity for a guardian. The GAL is an attorney who is charged with looking out for the proposed ward’s best interests throughout the proceedings.
Notice to Family – notice of the proceedings must be given to the proposed ward’s spouse, parents and adult children.
Representation and Objections — the proposed ward, as well as anyone to whom notice was given, may file a formal objection to the appointment of a ward. In, or all, of the people involved in the process, including the proposed ward, are entitled to be represented by an attorney.
Hearing – at a hearing set by the court evidence will be presented and testimony heard regarding the need for a guardian or the objection to the appointment of a guardian. The court will then make its decision.
If you have additional questions or concerns about guardianship or estate planning in South Carolina contact the experienced South Carolina estate planning attorneys at Kuhn & Kuhn Law Firm by calling 843-577-3700 to schedule your appointment.