A guardian has to use reasonable care and caution when making decisions and doing things on behalf of the ward. However, the guardian is generally not personally liable for any of the actions taken on behalf of the ward. In addition, the guardian is not liable for managing the ward’s estate if the guardian has acted like as prudent person would in dealing with the property of another. However, the guardian may be held liable for his/her actions where the ward’s property is damaged due to the careless acts of the guardian or if the guardian is personally at fault.
In some cases, the court will require a bond from the guardian to protect the ward financially. The bond is paid for by the ward’s estate and it protects the ward in the event the guardian’s mistake causes the estate to lose money. The amount of the bond is generally fixed at the total value of the estate property over which the guardian has unsupervised control, plus one year’s estimated income.
If the guardian enters into a contract which s/he has authority to enter into on behalf of the ward, the guardian is generally not personally liable on it. However, the guardian is personally liable on the contract if the contract so specifies.
The guardian is generally not liable for his/her acts if s/ acts on behalf of the ward in a representative capacity. In addition, the guardian does not assume personal responsibility for the ward’s debts which may have been incurred by the ward prior to the court’s determinations that he or she is an incapacitated or disabled person. However, unauthorized use of the ward’s estate or misappropriation of the ward’s property by the guardian will result in revocation of legal authority as guardian by the court and may result in personal liability by the guardian for any harm or loss suffered by the estate.
A guardian should therefore understand the responsibilities, use common sense and exercise sound judgment to prevent problems. A guardian is not required to have any special skills. However, if the guardian has special skills, s/he must use those skills to manage the ward’s estate. There are certain circumstances under which the guardian is personally liable for a debt of the ward. These include cases where-
(1) The guardian or conservator agrees to be personally responsible for the debt.
(2) The debt was incurred for the support of the ward and the guardian is liable for that debt because of another legal relationship that gives rise to or results in a duty of support relative to the ward.
(3) The negligence of the guardian or conservator gave rise to or resulted in the debt.
(4) The act of the guardian was beyond the guardian’s authority and this gave rise to or resulted in the debt.
In short, a guardian is not individually liable for the actions of the protected person unless the guardian is personally negligent. Also, a guardian is not required to expend his/her own funds on behalf of a protected person. However, a guardian may be held liable if they have failed in taking reasonable steps to assure that the protected person receives proper care and services, or the guardia has improperly managed the protected person’s property or finances.