Kentucky’s public guardianship program is administered by the Division of Guardianship in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Individuals are served by offices in all regions of the state.
In Kentucky, guardianship is a legal relationship between a court-appointed adult who assumes the role of guardian for a ward. A ward is a person who has been declared legally disabled by the court and is no longer able to care for his or her personal and/or financial needs.
A guardian may be a friend or family member who is willing to care for the disabled individual. If there is no one willing to care for the disabled person, the court will appoint the Cabinet for Health and Family Services as the state guardian. The duties of the state guardian include:
- Full Guardianship/Full Conservator – In this category the Cabinet is responsible for both the personal and financial needs of the ward. A court has found the ward fully disabled and all personal and financial rights are removed except the right to vote. The judge decides whether or not a ward retains the right to vote.
- Personal Guardian – A court finds the ward fully disabled in his/her personal affairs and appoints a personal guardian who is responsible for only personal affairs of the ward.
- Conservator – A court finds the ward fully disabled in managing his/her financial affairs and appoints a conservator who is responsible for financial or fiduciary affairs of the ward.
- Limited Guardian - A limited guardian may be appointed if the disabled person is declared partially disabled and can manage some personal needs but may need assistance with others. In this case, the court will also decide which civil rights the person can retain and which are given to the guardian. These may include the right to vote, the right to drive a car, the right to make medical decisions and the right to determine where to live.
- Limited Conservator - A limited conservator may be appointed if the disabled person only needs help with managing some financial or fiduciary affairs. In this case, the court will also decide which civil rights the person can retain and which are given to the conservator. These may include the right to sell property and the right to sign legal documents such as checks, marriage licenses or wills.