A Guardian (law), in United States law,is an individual who is entrusted with the care of a person, that person's property, or both, when such person, by statutory definition or judicial finding, is incapable of administering his or her own affairs, whether because of age, inability to understand, or lack of self-control. The usual form of guardianship is that of individuals considered minors under state statutes.
In most states the appointment of guardians and their duties to their wards are regulated by statute. In general, such statutes vest jurisdiction over appointment and control of guardians in the courts, usually in courts of probate in the case of the death of the parent. The legal right to guardianship of minor children, as at common law, normally belongs to the surviving parent. Whether such surviving parent will be appointed guardian, however, depends on the determination of the court as to whether such action will best promote the child's welfare under all circumstances. The laws of most states authorize the surviving parent to designate a guardian for minors by will, known as a testamentary guardian. A guardian may be appointed by a court when the parents of a minor child are still living if the parents appear unfit for control of the minor or have interests adverse to it.
Guardians appointed by a court or by will have control of the ward's person and entire property. It is the duty of the guardian to take possession and control of the ward's personal property, including any rents and profits from real estate; to keep, invest, and protect them; and to render a true account when the ward comes of age or at the demand of the court.
When a cause of action exists directly in favor of a minor or when an action or lawsuit is brought against a minor, in some states the court will appoint a guardian to protect the minor's interests. In estate-administration proceedings in which a minor is involved, the probate courts appoint a special guardian, usually an attorney, for the purpose of protecting the minor's interests.
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