In Georgia, the Probate Courts may grant guardianship of the person and/or property of an adult resident of the state (or one located in this state) who, because of physical or mental illness or disability, detention by a foreign power, or other just cause, lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make significant responsible decisions concerning his person (or is incapable of communicating those decisions) AND/OR is incapable of managing his estate or property which is likely to be wasted or dissipated unless proper management is provided.

The petition seeking guardianship of the person or property of an alleged incapacitated adult is filed either by two individuals having knowledge of the pertinent facts or by one such individual together with the affidavit of a physician or psychologist who has examined the proposed ward. Notice is to be given to the ward’s spouse and all living adult children, if any. If there is no spouse or adult children, or the addresses are unknown, the notice is given to the two known next of kin or, if none, then to two known adult friends of the proposed ward. Notice is, of course, also given to the proposed ward, who has a right to be represented by counsel. The Court will appoint an attorney for the ward if the ward does not employ counsel. An evaluation of the proposed ward is performed by a physician or psychologist, who must file a written report of the evaluation with the Court. Unless the petition is earlier dismissed by the Court, a final hearing is held and a decision made on the petition.

The Probate Court has the authority, if the petition is granted, to restrict or revoke certain rights or powers of the ward, including: the power to contract marriage; the power to make contracts; the power to consent to medical treatment; the power to establish a residence or place of abode; the power to bring or defend any action at law or equity (except an action related to guardianship) except through guardian ad litem; then power to buy, sell or otherwise dispose of real, personal or trust property; and the power to enter into any business or commercial transaction. Upon specific determination by the Court, the ward’s right to vote and power to make a will may also be revoked, and the Court may, as appropriate to the circumstances of each case, revoke any other rights or privileges of the ward, including the privilege to operate a motor vehicle. Except for the right to vote, the power to contract marriage, and the power to make a will, and except to the extent otherwise limited by the Court’s order, the guardian generally succeeds to the rights of the ward which have been revoked by the Court.

Guardianship may be granted for the person and/or over the property of the incapacitated adult, and the guardian of the person need not be the same person as the guardian of the property. The respective responsibilities of the guardian of the person and the guardian of the property are more fully explained under General Information.

While many, if not most, adult guardianships are permanent, they may be granted by the Court for a limited time. If the Court’s order sets a time limit on the existence of the guardianship, it will terminate at the time set by the Court. The guardianship will also terminate, by operation of law, upon the death of the ward, EXCEPT that the guardian of the property is charged with the responsibility, as ex-officio administrator, to proceed to distribute the estate of an intestate (no will) deceased ward, and the proceedings will remain open for that purpose.

SOURCE: Catoosa County Probate Court