Who can act as a guardian?
Custodians as guardians of minors
As a rule, the custodians of a minor are the minor’s guardians. Because the custodians act as the guardians of a minor under the law, their suitability is not assessed separately. However, the custodian of a minor can be dismissed from the guardian’s task if the person is found to be unfit or unsuitable to perform the task or there is some other specific reason for this. The specific reason referred to in legislation may be, for example, misconduct in the management of the minor’s property and financial affairs. If the custodian is a minor when the child is born, the custodian becomes the child’s guardian upon reaching the age of 18.
Private persons as guardians of adults
A fully competent person who has consented to the appointment may be appointed as the guardian of an adult. Under the law, the person appointed as a guardian must be suitable for the task. Suitability is always assessed on a case-by-case basis. The person’s skills and experience as well as the quality and extent of the task are taken into account in the assessment. For example, this means that a person with skills and experience in financial matters should be appointed to manage demanding and extensive financial matters.
Depending on the guardian's task, the ability and possibilities of the person appointed as a guardian to have a trusting relationship with the client is also emphasised in the assessment of suitability. The most suitable person for the guardian’s task is therefore often one of the persons close to the client. Even then, it must be ensured that the person appointed as the guardian will be able to manage the client’s matters for the client’s benefit in spite of his or her own interests or the interests of the persons close to the guardian and in spite of efforts to influence the guardian. Performing the guardian's task impartially and neutrally may sometimes require the appointment of an external public guardian.
A person may be considered unsuitable for the task of guardian if they have been guilty of embezzlement, abuse of a position of trust or some other similar offence. On the basis of such offences, it can be considered obvious that the person is unable to manage the financial affairs of another person appropriately. The person's difficulties in the proper management of their own financial matters may also indicate that the person is not necessarily suitable for the management of another person's financial affairs. When the need for guardianship is investigated, the authority may check the enforcement, credit and criminal history of the person proposed to act as a guardian.
A public guardian can always be appointed to act as a guardian. Public guardianship is a service provided by the state. A public guardian is usually a government official working in a public guardianship office. In some areas, the public guardian may also be a public guardian working for a provider of outsourced services.
A public guardian may be appointed if the person cannot propose a suitable/willing family member or friend for the task or when impartial and neutral management of the persons matters requires the appointment of an external public guardian.
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