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Legal guardians' duties are clearly defined

Citizens of Ontario who appoint legal guardians as property caretakers for incapable individuals, such as elderly family members, may be interested to learn that the duties and powers of such guardians are limited by established legislation. According to the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, guardians do not gain ownership of an incapacitated person's property, but they nonetheless play a crucial role in the management and maintenance thereof.

Those who become legal guardians don't have complete freedom of action. For instance, they're required to maintain total separation between their own personal finances and the accounts and transactions belonging to the individuals on whose behalf they act. In addition, the compensation they may receive for their work is strictly limited, and the law stipulates that they maintain detailed records of all the decisions they make.

Appointing a personal guardian for an individual doesn't take away their freedom of choice. Guardians must keep property owners in the loop by informing them about decisions as much as possible, and any decisions they make should take the incapacitated person's comfort, wellbeing and care needs into account. Disputes between incapacitated individuals and their caregivers are to be resolved by official decisions made by Ontario's Superior Court of Justice.

While the responsibilities of legal guardians are clearly laid out by Ontario law, real-life guardian arrangements don't always go according to plan. Families may be dismayed to discover that their relatives' legal guardians have been inappropriately managing finances or acting beyond their legal authority. In such cases, it may be wise to investigate one's viable legal options with the assistance of a lawyer, especially prior to engaging in litigious action.

Source: Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, "Duties and Powers of a Guardian of Property", August 26, 2014

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