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Guardianship is the legal process that allows a court to appoint a guardian on behalf of a person who is unable to make decisions and/or care for himself or herself personally or financially.

This could be due to reasons including but not limited to physical and mental disabilities. As a part of the process, the court appoints an attorney to represent the alleged disabled person and their interests. The party asking for the guardianship could be a person or an institution (for example a hospital). If guardianship over the alleged disabled person is granted, the guardian can be a family member, friend, or professional who has a particular relationship with the alleged disabled person, or a representative of the state. The appointed guardian then has the ability to make decisions on behalf of the disabled person.

The guardian's authority is dictated by whether she is guardian of "the person" or guardian of "the property." Guardians of the person make decisions for the person regarding things like housing and medical care. Guardians of the property have control over the management of the person’s financial affairs and assets.

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