By Stan Butterfield

What are the duties of a guardian? There may be some specific differences from one jurisdiction to another, but in Oregon the following list is a pretty good summary. (If you have any questions about specific rights or duties involved in a guardianship, please ask a lawyer.) The duties of a guardian are also distinct from the duties of a conservator. To learn more about the duties of a conservator, click here. Once the guardian has received their appointment from the court and has been issued what are called, “Letters of Guardianship,” the guardian will be expected to:

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1. Take custody of the protected person, which entails an element of control over the activities of that person, including, for instance, where he or she lives.

2. Provide for the care, comfort, maintenance, and, if necessary, the training and education of the protected person.

3. Take reasonable care of the protected person’s clothing, furniture, and personal effects.

4. When appropriate, make health care decisions on behalf of the protected person, always seek to carry out the known wishes of the protected person.

5. Make funeral and burial arrangements in advance and control disposition of the remains of the protected person in the event of death. Advance payment of funeral expenses is very important if the protected person’s long-term health care costs may be paid for by the Medicaid program. Alternatively, establish a savings account for an appropriate amount in the protected person’s name and mark on the face of the account book “Dedicated to funeral services” or the like.

6. If a conservator has been appointed for the protected person, work with the appointed conservator to see that the protected person has adequate funds to provide for his or her support, care, and education. Frequently, the guardian is also appointed as the conservator, but there are separate duties associated with this role. To see what the duties of a conservator are, click here.

7. Make an annual report to the court, due 30 days after anniversary of appointment as guardian.

8. Pursuant to ORS 125.320, the guardian must file a statement with the court (and a copy to the protected person, any conservator, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, any lawyer who has represented the protected person during the proceedings, and anyone else entitled to notice) giving notice in advance of your intention to move the protected person from home to a care facility or from one care facility to another. If the protected person is to be placed in a mental health treatment facility, the Oregon Advocacy Center must be notified. Hospitalization for medical care does not require notice. If the placement is an emergency, give any required notice as soon as possible, but the life and safety of the protected person is more important than paperwork.

9. Contact a lawyer if a conflict arises between the guardian and a health care representative, under an Oregon medical advance directive about health care decisions, or if a conflict arises between the guardian and (other) family members about funeral arrangements and disposition of the body.

Stan Butterfield is a lawyer in Dallas, Oregon and practices in Polk, Marion, Yamhill, and Linn counties. If you are concerned for the health and safety of a loved one and believe that you may need to establish a guardianship or conservatorship, give him a call–(503) 623-2427.