Guardianship and loss of legal capacity

If an individual is unable to take care of his/her responsibilities due to illness, for example, and there are no other appropriate arrangements in place, the District Court can appoint a guardian for the individual in question. A written application for the appointment of a guardian can be submitted by the individual himself/herself or by his/her father, mother, spouse, child or other relative. The Register Officer can also submit the application and, on the other hand, an application for the appointment of a guardian can be submitted to the Register Office.

A guardian can be, for example, a relative, friend or other close acquaintance of the individual, as long as he or she has adequate skills and experience for the task. If this is not possible, the court will appoint a public guardian to act as the individual’s guardian.

In most cases, a guardian is appointed to look after the client’s property and financial affairs. The guardian must look after the client’s property in a manner that allows the property and any profits from the same to be used to benefit the client and his or her personal needs. The guardian can also be appointed to attend to a specific task, such as selling property on behalf of the client.

An individual for whom a guardian has been appointed can retain his or her full legal competence. However, the District Court can limit the individual’s legal competence upon request. The District Court can decide, for example, that the individual in question must not be able to accumulate more debt or have control over specific assets.

A guardian must strive to work in cooperation with his or her client. Before making any important decisions that will affect the client, the guardian must consult him or her, if this is possible considering the client’s condition.

The guardian must also ensure that his or her client has access to appropriate treatment, care and rehabilitation.

A guardian who manages a client’s property must keep accounts of the client’s assets, debts and transactions during each financial year. At the beginning of the task, the guardian must provide the Register Office with a list of the client’s assets and debts. The guardian must provide accounts to the Register Office regularly, usually once a year.

If the client has receivables, such as a right to a pension, the guardian must notify the payer of the account into which the money is to be deposited. The guardian must also notify the bank of the individuals who have the right to withdraw money from the client’s account.

The guardian needs the Register Office’s permission to perform important legal transactions on behalf of the client. Permission is required, for example, for selling or buying property, for pledging property or for taking out loans other than State-guaranteed student loans.

A guardian cannot represent his or her client in legal proceedings to which the guardian or a person close to him or her is party. The guardian needs a substitute for these kinds of legal proceedings.

A guardian is entitled to compensation for expenses from the client’s funds and to reasonable reimbursement.

Guardians’ activities are supervised by the Register Office. The District Court can release a guardian who is not fit for the task from his or her responsibilities.

Published 4.3.2014