How to Obtain Legal Guardianship of an Adult in the State of Arkansas

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Arkansas regards guardianship as a fundamental legal proceeding dating back to Roman civil and English common law. The need for a guardian arises under Arkansas law when an adult can no longer take care of himself or making decisions about his health and finances. The circuit court within which the person needing care resides will handle the guardianship proceedings and all documents should be filed in that courthouse. If you wish to be appointed guardian, you must file the necessary petition and paperwork and attend the guardianship proceedings.

  • In the county within which the ward lives, file a petition in the probate clerk's office seeking to have a guardian appointed. The petition sets forth facts that the ward is no longer able to handle his affairs and cannot take care of himself. In addition to the petition, the guardian must file a statement from the ward's physician attesting to his decreased capacity.

  • Ensure all parties are served with copies of the petition and capacity records. This includes, first and foremost, the ward himself. From there, siblings, children or the spouse of the ward may be served a copy as well. The statute requires a minimum 20-day wait from the time of filing the petition until the hearing can commence.

  • Attend the guardianship hearing. Once all parties have been properly served with copies of the guardianship petition and competency records, the circuit court will hold a hearing to decide the appropriateness of guardianship. The hearing will include testimony from witnesses who can attest either to the need for a guardian or the lack of need for a guardian. In addition, evidence of medical records indicating incapacity will be considered as well. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will determine whether the ward needs a guardian and, if so, who the guardian will be.

  • Post bond. Whomever is awarded guardianship will be required to post bond as he will take custody of the guardian and his assets. The guardian must then sign an "Acceptance of an Appointment of Guardianship" and guardianship letters will be issued by the probate clerk's office. These letters authorize the guardian to take possession of the assets of the ward.

  • File an accounting of assets within 90 days of appointment. This entails filing a detailed inventory of all the ward's assets and property. An annual accounting will be required every year thereafter and will be due annually within 60 days of the anniversary of appointment. This accounting must include the ward's assets last year, his income, his expenditures and any additions or deductions to his property or assets. Also, an annual report detailing the condition of the ward is required.

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