What is guardianship?
Guardianship is the legal power to direct and control another person’s life.

Types of guardianship:

  • A guardian of the person can generally make personal decisions such as where a person will live, what types of health care a person will receive, and where the person will go to school or work.
  • A guardian of the property determines how a person’s money is invested and spent.
  • Full guardianship includes the powers and responsibilities of decision making over both personal and property matters. This is the most restrictive type of guardianship.
  • Limited guardianship only allows the guardian authority in specifically defined matters.
  • Temporary guardianship is granted to give authority to handle a specific matter. Once the matter is resolved, guardianship is removed.

When does an adult with a disability need a guardian?
At age 18, people with developmental disabilities are adults, and receive all the rights and responsibilities associated with adult status. An adult may need a guardian when a decision must be made related to a person’s assets or well-being, and the person is unable to make the decision for himself or herself. Guardianship may be an option if all other alternatives have been explored—it should always be the last option. Adults should receive the most effective, but the least intrusive form of support, assistance, or protection when they are unable to care for themselves or their assets.

How do I apply for guardianship?
To obtain guardianship of an adult, contact an attorney who will prepare a petition for the civil domestic court of Prince George’s County. The petition must state why the petitioner is seeking guardianship, the relationship between the petitioner and the person with a disability, and what kinds of decisions the petitioner wants to make. The petition must also include written statements from two physicians that describe the person’s disability. The petition must be given to the civil domestic court. The court will then assign representation for the adult with a disability. After hearing all evidence, a judge will rule on whether the individual, in fact, needs guardianship and, if so, will establish what form of guardianship. Contact the Prince George’s County Civil Domestic Court at 301-952-3322.

What is public guardianship?
If a guardian is necessary and no family member or friend is willing to take on the responsibility, the court will appoint a public guardian. Information about the Adult Public Guardianship Program in the state of Maryland can be found at

What are the responsibilities of a guardian?
The guardian must make decisions that are in the best interest of the person with a disability. The guardian must also keep records of all actions taken in his or her role as a guardian. After guardianship is established, annual reports must be filed documenting decisions made and spending of funds.