What does a Guardian of a Minor do?

1. What are a Guardian’s duties and responsibilities to the minor?

A guardian has almost the same powers and responsibilities of a parent regarding a child’s support, care, education, health and welfare.  The guardian can make ordinary decisions about the child’s daily life, including visitation of the birth parents unless the court orders otherwise.

A Guardian’s duties generally include the following:

  • Provide a stable home for the child
  • Make ordinary medical care decisions and doctor visits as needed
  • Help with school and other social and recreational activities
  • Take care of a child’s personal property
  • Use a child’s money to support the child and if possible save for the future

2. What are the limits to a Guardian’s decision making powers?

A Guardian can make everyday decisions but must ask for the court’s permission in order to:

  • Give antipsychotic medications
  • Consent to extraordinary medical treatments
  • Admit a child to a mental health or developmental disability facility
  • Resign or end the guardianship

3. What if a biological parent wants to regain custody of the child?

If a parent’s situation changes and he or she is able to care for the child, the parent must seek the court’s permission to regain care and custody of the child.

4. What are a Guardian’s duties and responsibilities to the Court?

After a Guardian is appointed, the court oversees the guardianship and monitors the well-being of the minor.  Every Guardian of a minor must fill out an Annual Report of Guardian of a Minor. The Annual Report is a fill-in-the blank court form that reports on the minor’s current situation and notes any changes that occurred. The Annual Report is due every year on the anniversary date of the day you were appointed Guardian, for as long as you are Guardian.

You can find a blank copy of the Annual Report at the Registry office of the Probate and Family Court, or on-line at http://www.mass.gov/courts/courtsandjudges/courts/probateandfamilycourt/upcforms.html

If you use the form on the court website, you can fill it out on-line and print it. Whether you use a paper copy from the Registry office or complete it on-line and print it, be sure to make a copy of the completed Annual Report for your records. Finally, you mail the completed Annual Report to the Court that appointed you Guardian. Mark the date the report is due next year on your calendar. The court will not send a reminder.

Family Guardianship Clinics, operating weekly at some Probate and Family Courts, offer help filling out Annual Reports to low income eligible clients. If not income-eligible, the Guardian can be referred to a limited assistance representation attorney by asking the staff at Registry for a list of LAR attorneys. Check for a Clinic and its operating schedule or on the senior Partners for Justice webist below at:

www.spfj.org/MSex_Gship.htm

or on the Probate and Family Court website,

http://www.mass.gov/courts/courtsandjudges/courts/probateandfamilycourt/upc.html