A guardianship is the legal process where someone is appointed to assume legal responsibility over the care and management of a minor or estate of an incapacitated individual who cannot act for himself/herself. Guardianship can be temporary or permanent.
A guardianship of a minor child becomes necessary if that minor child is entitled to receive any assets under a Last Will and Testament or if they were designated as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy or IRA, etc. A guardian of the estate is necessary because a minor child cannot legally own any real property or be entitled to receive any assets. A parent is always the natural guardian of the person of a minor therefore a guardian of the person of a minor is only necessary when the minor's parents are deceased or unable to care for the minor.
In a guardianship proceeding, the court will appoint a guardian to protect the interests of an incapacitated person. An incapacitated person means a person under the age of eighteen years, or an adult individual who is unable to provide food, clothing, or shelter or unable to manage their financial affairs. There are two types of Guardianships. A Guardian of the Person is responsible for the care and maintenance and personal needs of an incapacitated person. A Guardian of the Estate is responsible for all financial matters of an incapacitated person.
An adoption is the legal process when an individual assumes all the rights and responsibilities involved in parenting and caring for a child. Adoption permanently relinquishes the rights and the responsibilities of a child's biological parents.