What Is Guardianship?
Guardianship refers to a legal relationship where one person assumes legal responsibility for the financial affairs and personal care of another person who is considered legally incapacitated. Incapacitation is a legal term that generally describes a person who is incapable of living on their own due to a physical or mental disability. Additionally, a person is considered incapacitated if they are under the age of 18 because the law considers minor-aged individuals to lack the judgment and maturity to handle their own affairs.
Legal guardians can handle matters on behalf of a person or their estate. For example, in some states, a legal guardian may be necessary to represent the estate of a minor child who received a substantial inheritance from a deceased family member.
What Are the Pros of Guardianship?
Legal guardians have the authority and responsibility to make legal decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person—known as a “ward.” A child’s birth parents usually occupy the role of legal guardian for their child. However, nonparents can also serve as a child’s legal guardian, if doing so would be in the child’s best interests.
What Are the Cons of Guardianship?
Although legal guardians often have superior rights and responsibilities regarding the care and custody of a minor child, a legal guardian does not necessarily have a parent-child relationship with the child. As a result, a child does not automatically inherit from their legal guardian’s estate, nor do legal guardians automatically inherit from their child-ward’s estate. A legal guardian must explicitly provide for the inheritance of a child for whom they provide care and custody and vice versa.
What Is Adoption?
Adoption creates a legally recognized parent-child relationship between the adoptive parent and the adopted child. As a result, adoptive parents naturally serve as the legal guardians of their minor adopted children. This allows people who are not the birth parents of a child to assume the rights and responsibilities of a parent.
What Are the Pros of Adoption?
As mentioned above, a parent-child relationship exists between the adoptive parent and their adopted children. As a result, adoptive parents have paramount rights and responsibilities when it comes to the care and custody of their minor children. This allows adopted children to inherit from their adoptive parent’s estates and vice versa under state laws concerning intestate succession.
What Are the Cons of Adoption?
Because the adoption process establishes the parent-child relationship between two people, the parent-child relationship cannot preexist an adoption. Therefore, adoption is limited to situations where there is no preexisting parent-child relationship. In many cases, the adoptive parents are adopting a child whose parents have already passed away. In other cases where a birth parent of the prospective adopted child is still alive, the parent-child relationship must have been terminated between them before the adoption process can proceed. In addition, once an adoption occurs, the adoptive parent becomes legally responsible for the financial support and well-being the adopted child, just as a parent would for any biological child.
Get In Touch with McIntyre Tate, LLP for Advice
If you need legal advice for a dispute involving Rhode Island family law, you should consult an experienced attorney from McIntyre Tate, LLP. Our legal team is dedicated to helping you resolve family law disputes, including cases such as divorce and adoption.
Contact McIntyre Tate, LLP online or call us at (401) 351-7700 to arrange for a case evaluation today.