In some cases, an emergency guardian is the best option

woman and elderly woman.jpeg

In some situations, a family member or friend needs to step in and impose a guardianship for an adult or child — and sometimes do so quickly.

Here is what you need to know about an emergency guardianship in Georgia:

Who can request an emergency guardian?

Any interested person, including the person herself (called the “proposed ward”) can file a petition for the appointment of an emergency guardian and/or conservator or the appointment of a guardian and/or conservator in the Probate Court in the county where the proposed ward resides or is found. The petition must include the proposed ward’s current address, the proposed ward’s permanent mailing address, and the proposed ward’s present location.

The petition must be signed by two or more interested parties or one interested party and an affidavit from a physician licensed to practice medicine or a licensed clinical social worker. If either of these professionals write an affidavit, he/she must have personal knowledge of the proposed ward and have examined the proposed ward within the fifteen days immediately preceding the filing of the petition.

How is the need for an emergency guardian determined?

An emergency guardian will not be appointed until there is an immediate danger. The petition must clearly outline the reasons the emergency guardianship is sought, including the facts that support the need for a guardian, and the facts that establish “an immediate and substantial risk of death or serious physical injury, illness, or disease unless an emergency guardian is appointed,” according to Georgia code.

“An emergency guardianship will not be considered by the court unless the court determines that an actual emergency exists,” says Marijane Cauthorn, Cauthorn Nohr & Owen’s managing partner and an approved guardian ad litem for the Probate Court of Cobb County. “It must be clear that no other person — an agent acting under a power of attorney or a trustee — has the authority and willingness to act.”

What happens when the threat is immediate?

In some cases, the need for an emergency guardian is immediate in order to protect a person from potential harm. This threat must be certified by the physician’s affidavit or the facts in the petition. In addition, the court will appoint an emergency guardian to serve until the emergency hearing.

This happens in very limited instances and is not a final determination of the proposed ward’s need for a guardian. When an emergency guardian is appointed the guardian has only those powers and duties specifically enumerated in the letters of emergency guardianship, and those powers and duties cannot exceed what is absolutely necessary to respond to the immediate threat.

 Read more about guardianship in our blog “Guardianship requires guidance.”


The CNO Team