From Court Hearing to Guardianship Commision
The Order & Judgment
The Order and Judgment signed by the judge is the document containing the judge’s decision that a guardian is needed for an incapacitated person, what general and specific duties the guardian has, and who the guardian is. At the end of the hearing the judge usually asks the lawyer for the petitioner or a lawyer for one of the other parties, to write the Order and Judgment and send it to the judge to be signed. After the judge has signed it, it is filed in the county clerk’s office. In some counties this may take 90 days or more. If it is taking too long, contact the lawyer to see what is causing the delay. (Click Here for a sample copy of an Order and Judgment.)
|NOTE: If there is some reason that the judge wants you to be able to take care of your ward’s affairs immediately, the judge may sign a so called “Interim Order” in which the judge authorizes you to do something right away for your ward. Interim Orders remain in effect until the judge has signed the final Order and Judgment.
How can I get a copy of the Order and Judgment?
The lawyer who is writing the Order and Judgment may send you a copy in the mail, but if you don’t get a copy from the lawyer you should call the county clerk’s office to find out if the Order and Judgment has been filed yet. (Some county clerks do not want to answer questions by phone and you may have to go to the courthouse to see the county clerk in person to get the information you need.)
WHat information is in the Order and Judgment?
The Order and Judgment states that you have been appointed the guardian of your loved one. It also describes in detail what you must do as guardian. Because each case is different, the Order and Judgment is written to describe your ward’s case. It is an important document for you—even if it is difficult to read. You should keep the Order and Judgment in a safe place together with all the other official papers you will get that are described in the next pages.
Each paragraph that begins with the words “Ordered and Adjudged” will tell you a specific thing the judge has decided you must do. For instance, it will tell you:
- Whether you must get a bond, and if so for how much
- Whatever else the judge expects you to do on behalf of your ward
- The name and address of the court examiner who reviews your reports
- The fee for the petitioner’s attorney and the court evaluator for the work they have done on your ward’s case (these fees must be paid out of your ward’s funds)
If you have difficulty finding these sections you should ask the lawyer for help or the staff in the county clerk’s office to explain them to you.
How do I use the Order and Judgment?
The Order and Judgment is your proof that you have been appointed by the court to manage your ward’s affairs and what sort of authority you have. You therefore need the signed Order and Judgment when you contact a bonding agency to apply for a bond if the judge ordered you to get one. It is also an important document when you have to do business for your ward with banks, brokerage houses, medical facilities and other institutions. In addition, the Order and Judgment is an important guide for you throughout your guardianship because it outlines what the judge expects from you.