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Guardians are appointed by the court to help individuals who need assistance making personal decisions, which might include where to live or what medical treatment is necessary. A general (or full) guardianship gives the guardian the authority to make all personal care decisions on behalf of the protected person, except those that require prior court approval. A limited guardianship allows the guardian specific powers that are set out in a court order; in all other personal care situations, the protected person can make his/her own decisions.

Once appointed, a guardian is responsible for considering the protected person’s wishes and handling their urgent needs first (e.g., living situation, meals, personal effects, health care decisions not covered by a durable Health Care Power of Attorney document). The guardian should then consider other needs (e.g., education,

health care management

recreation, counseling, other services, visitation).


Personal care decisions that require a court order include:


  • Changing, at the guardian's request, the protected person's permanent residence to a nursing home, other secure facility, or secure portion of a facility that restricts the ability to leave or have visitors, unless advance notice of the change was included in the guardian's initial care plan that was approved by the court.  In an emergency situation, the court shall review the request for approval on an expedited basis. 

  • Consenting to the following:

    • The withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures in accordance with chapter 144A or 144D.

    • The performance of an abortion on the protected person.

    • The sterilization of the protected person.

  • Denying all communication, visitation or interaction with someone whom the protected person has expressed a desire to communicate, visit, or interact or with a person who seeks to communicate, visit or interact with the protected person.  A court shall approve the denial only upon a showing of good cause by the guardian.  

The guardian is an officer of the court and must file an initial report to the district court in the county where the Guardianship is established within 60 days of the date of appointment. The guardian must also file an annual report within 90 days of the close of the reporting period (the anniversary of the date of appointment), as well as any supplemental reports, as required. Upon court approval, a Guardianship may terminate if the guardian is removed or resigns, or when the protected person reaches the age of majority, is determined to no longer need a guardian or dies.

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