The Adult Guardianship Process in Alberta
Legal guardians can be appointed by the court for adults who do not have personal directives. As a guardian, you can make personal decisions for the represented adult about residence, education, healthcare, and personal care legal issues. You cannot make financial decisions for the represented adult unless you are also a trustee. Please note that adults who have personal directives do not require guardians.
Family members or friends can apply to become the guardian of an adult who is not capable of making personal care decisions in his or her best interest. You may need to apply for guardianship if you have a child with a developmental disability who is about to turn 18, a relative or friend with dementia, or a relative or friend who has suffered a significant brain injury.
Once an application for a court order has been submitted, it takes approximately three to six months for the court to make a decision. In urgent situations, the court can appoint an interim guardian who has the authority to make decisions for up to 90 days.
Guardianship Application Process
The first step is to have the adult’s capacity assessed by a professional. The assessment can be done by the adult’s family doctor or another physician, a psychologist or psychiatrist, or a designated capacity assessor. A completed Form 4: Capacity Assessment Report (Guardianship or Trusteeship or Both) must be included with your application and it must have been dated within six months of the date the application is submitted.
Secondly, choose which application path to take. If you don’t expect anyone to oppose your application, you can choose a desk application, which will not require you to appear in court. The judge will make a decision based on the application.
If you expect someone to oppose the application or you need the guardianship order quickly, choose application by hearing. This means you or your lawyer will appear in court and the judge will make a decision based on the application and what is said at the hearing.
It is very important that all of the guardianship forms are filled out properly and all required information is included. If you work with a lawyer, he or she will guide you through this process and ensure it is done correctly. Your lawyer will also submit the application and the Capacity Assessment Report.
The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee will have a review officer meet with the adult to discuss the application for guardianship. This ensures the adult’s opinion is taken into account. The review officer will provide the court with a report based on this meeting.
The review officer will also contact the people listed as “interested parties” in the application as well as anyone else they think should be made aware of the application, letting them know they can request a court hearing if they don’t agree with it. If anyone opposes the application and wishes to have a hearing, they must submit a specific form by the date provided in the review officer’s letter.
If guardianship is granted, a copy of the court order will be sent to the guardian, the represented adult, and other relevant parties. It will name the guardian and any alternates, and specify the areas in which the guardian has the authority to make decisions.