A Petition for Guardianship may be filed in the Court of Common Pleas Orphans' Court. A guardianship is considered appropriate when a court determines that an individual is incapacitated and unable to make their own decisions. There are Plenary Guardianships and Limited Guardianships. In a Plenary Guardianship, the individual appointed as guardian has complete authority to make all decisions, including financial decisions, for the incapacitated person. In a Limited Guardianship, the guardian may be appointed for more limited purposes such as management of finances.
A common area where Guardianships are important is when there is a child with special needs who then turns 18. After 18, their parents have no technical legal authority to make medical and other treatment decisions on their behalf. It is very important to file a guardianship petition at that time. There are also occasions where a relative needs to provide health insurance coverage for minor children who do not have available insurance otherwise. A limited guardianship for that purpose may be appropriate.