What is The Primary Role of a Guardian?

When this question was presented during the Spring of 2020 to a court appointed guardian in Los Angeles County, California her response, echoed by one of her employees, was: “To keep our clients happy.”  We deem that a misguided response, perhaps rooted in good intentions but not a route to acting as the best fiduciary.

A guardian’s primary responsibility is to: “Promote the safety, well-being and protection of the court supervised ward from elements of society that could cause harm, including from abuse, neglect and exploitation, even when decisions required to do so make the ward unhappy for the moment.”  This means that there will be occasions when the ward must be protected from themselves.

That said, when a guardian has as a primary focus always keeping the ward happy, this could lead to decisions that minimize annoyance from the ward, but that are not in their best interests.  Judges and clerks of the court are often attentive to this occurrence and admonish guardians accordingly.  Why the often misguided focus?

Sometimes the guardian does not want to entertain the thought of losing the case and the associated income.  Or this misguided approach is buried deep within their psyche because they do not want to reason through what may be the best course with the ward, difficult relatives of the ward or others.  They run from – even if necessary – potential confrontation.  In the end, due to this approach that does not comport with the mission of a guardian, the ward is the one who suffers.

A lack of courage could be destroying the mission.  Courage Is Not the Absence of Fear But Acting In Spite Of It. Courage is standing up against tremendous odds to achieve something significant. Courage is finding the willpower to show metal, perseverance, resolution, and fortitude in everyday situations. Courage is not something we are born with but comes from within us, from our choices.

No one should doubt that the role of a guardian is a large undertaking.  Someone’s life and wellbeing are involved.  Therefore, mature decision makers are needed in the role of guardian and their support personnel.  That balanced combination of proper temperament, reasoning ability and discretion in making decisions and recommendations are essential to truly reaching the mission.