Role and Responsibilities of a Guardian

Role and Responsibilities of a Guardian

Thank you for choosing Evans Case, LLP to assist you with your probate matter. Serving as a guardian can be overwhelming at times, so we stand ready to be of assistance should you have any questions or concerns. This brochure provides an overview of the roles and responsibilities of a guardian.

A guardian is a person who a Colorado Court appoints to oversee the general welfare and care of a minor or an individual who is incapacitated by illness or accident. In general, guardians are responsible for:​

  •  Carrying out any specific Court orders.

  • Managing the individual’s welfare and care, including medical.

  • Determining where the individual lives, as well as their educational and/or vocational

Under Colorado law, a guardian is deemed to be a fiduciary, and as such, is held to a very high standard of care. A guardian is accountable to the individual, the Court and other interested persons. They are expected to act prudently and in the best interests of the protected individual at all times.

How is someone appointed to be guardian?
The petitioner – typically a family member or friend – will nominate a guardian within the Petition for Appointment of Guardian. It is important that family members and friends work together with the petitioner to identify who best to serve in this role before filing the petition. Sometimes people identify who they wish to have act as the guardian in their will or power of attorney documents many years before needing one. As a result, that individual may not want to take on that responsibility or is no longer capable of serving in that capacity. If this occurs, the petitioner should meet with the protected person’s family to discuss who else should be nominated as the guardian before filing the petition.

What authorities do I have as guardian?
Your authority is outlined in documents: “Letters of Guardianship” and the “Order Appointing Guardian.” Both documents will be issued by the Court following the hearing. The guardianship may be limited in duration, scope and level of Court involvement. The Court seeks to maximize the protected person’s independence and involvement, and may require specific actions to achieve this standard.

Upon appointment, you will be asked to review and sign an Acknowledgment form that summarizes your appointment and responsibilities. It is important that you read the Court’s Order thoroughly and comply with the terms of the appointment before signing it. The form also outlines specific due dates for reports to file with the Court. It is very important that any reports requested by the Court are filed on or before the due date.

Once appointed, you will have a fiduciary duty to the protected person, meaning that you must always act in the best interest of and with undivided loyalty to them. In most situations, it is necessary to disclose the guardian/ward relationship. You will usually have the authority to make most or all decisions related to the individual’s health, education and welfare. A guardian may also sign legal documents on behalf of the individual; choose an appropriate living situation; and grant, withhold and withdraw consent to medical treatment.

What duties do I have as guardian?
Guardians are expected to:

  • Avoid transactions that cause a conflict of interest, and make all decisions with care and
    prudence. You must make efforts to include the individual in decision-making and
    encourage self-sufficiency.
  • Consider the known and reasonable desires and personal values when making decisions on behalf of the protected individual, and must become and/or remain personally acquainted with him or her.
  • Submit an initial care plan and annual reports as identified within the Court Order and on the signed Acknowledgment form. The reports require you to describe in detail the protected individual’s wellbeing, physical and mental health needs, financial resources available for care, any significant changes in your life or their life, and whether there is a need for the guardianship to continue. The reports must be filed on or before the due date to the Court and copies must be sent to all interested parties as identified in the original Order of Appointment and/or any subsequent orders. If you need help preparing the reports, we here at Evans Case can assist you.
  • If no conservator is appointed, the Court will Order you to manage the day-to-day finances for the support, care, education, health and welfare of the protected person. As you are ultimately accountable, consider seeking counsel from professionals and other agents to effectively carry out your duties, unless otherwise specified by the Court. You will need to:
    • Report financial activity in the annual report.
    • Detail all income, disbursements and liabilities.
    • Show opening and closing balances for all accounts during the reporting period.
    • Maintain all supporting documentation in the event the Court or interested parties request to review financial activity.
    • File any required tax returns on the individual’s behalf.
    • Make distributions to the individual for his/her care and expenses or to third parties directly who provide a service to the protected individual. The terms under which distributions must or may be made can be restricted by the Court, or may be made mandatory for the individual’s health, education and maintenance. Under certain circumstances, you may be compelled by a Court to make a distribution at the individual’s or interested party’s request.

What are my liabilities as guardian?
You may be personally liable to the individual or a third party in certain circumstances, including when the relationship is not disclosed, you are directly at fault, grossly negligent or acted criminally. In some situations, you may be personally liable even though your improper actions were not intentional or negligent.

How long must I serve as guardian?
A guardianship may end for several reasons, including:

  • The protected person regaining capacity to manage his or her financial affairs.
  • Upon the death of the protected person.*
  • Upon the resignation, removal or death of the guardian.
  • For a minor, until age 18.
  • A date set by the Court.

A guardian’s duties to the individual continue until a successor guardian is appointed or otherwise directed by the Court.

Mandatory reporting of an at-risk elder
At at-risk elder is any person who is 70 years of age or older. As the guardian, you are considered a “mandatory reporter.” If you witness or become aware that an at-risk elder is or at risk for abuse, caretaker neglect or financial exploitation, you must make a report to law enforcement within 24 hours. Am I compensated for serving as guardian? Who is responsible for related expenses? You are entitled to reasonable compensation and reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses from the guardianship estate for acts on behalf of the protected individual during the guardianship (e.g. hiring professionals to help you provide care and make decisions). Reasonable compensation is determined on a case-by-case basis and good recordkeeping and accounting is absolutely necessary. Any compensation is considered income to you, and as such, is generally taken as a tax deduction by the individual you are guarding.

Thank you again for choosing Evans Case, LLP.

We are here to help

Contact Us for a consultation with one of our trusted attorneys and tell us about your case.

  • Best Lawyers of the Year 2020 Keith Lapuyade badge
    AV Preeminent Rated Lawyers by Martindale Hubbell badge
    Denver's Top Lawyers 2022 badge
    Best Lawyers 2019 badge
  • Rated by Super Lawyers badge
    AV Preeminent for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability badge
    Colorado Bar Foundation Bar Fellows President badge
    5280 Top Lawyers Denver badge
  • Top 10 Insurance Bad Faith Trial Lawyers badge
    Colorado Bar Association logo
    Arapahoe County Bar Association logo
    Colorado Women's Bar Association logo
Evans Case logo

Evans Case is a full-service Denver Law Firm. With more than 110 years of collective experience we are relentless and compassionate advocates for our clients. The deep legal experience and wisdom of our senior attorneys combined with fresh thinking of younger associates ensure the best possible results in each case. Our attorneys understand that the best outcomes are built on thorough understanding, compassion, and respect.

Contact Us

1660 S. Albion Street,
Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80222

Phone: 303.722.8000
Toll Free: 800.252.1490
Fax: 303.753.0444


© 2023 Evans Case, LLP | All Rights Reserved

Powered by:

Epic Web Results text logo
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram