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Appointing a guardian

Appointing a guardian

A guardian is a court-appointed legal representative of a person. If an adult does not understand their actions or the consequences of their actions due to a mental illness, the court might appoint them a guardian. If your adult child, spouse or parent needs a guardian or you yourself need a guardian, please contact the social worker of your local city district government or the court of your place of residence with a free-form written request.

What does guardianship mean?

  • A guardian represents a person and protects their assets, rights and interests.
  • The guardianship will be assigned responsibility for all or some administrative activities as needed (such as financial transactions, marriage, acknowledgment of paternity and other important decisions that substantially impact the person’s rights and obligations. The areas of the guardianship will be noted in the court order.)
  • The guardian must make sure that the person under guardianship receives the necessary treatment and social services.
  • If the guardian is responsible for organising their care, they will sign all the documents related to providing social services in place of the person under guardianship.
  • The court will examine the actions of the guardian and the need for continuation of the guardianship. The guardianship will be appointed for up to five years, as the need for guardianship can change or end.
  • The guardian will submit a report about fulfilment of their tasks to the court every year.

When is a guardian appointed to an adult? You should consider setting up guardianship, if an adult cannot stand up for their rights and interests due to their mental health. Maybe they have difficulties with signing contracts, dealing with public institutions or making financial transactions. A guardian is usually a close family member but the role can also be fulfilled by the city district government. Setting up a guardianship is not necessary if the person’s interests can be protected by granting authorisations or with the assistance of other family members or helpers.

To get a better idea of whether the guardianship is necessary, the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People has compiled a questionnaire:

  • Is your child able to orientate in time, space, their own person and in day to day situations and to what extent?
  • Are they able to independently cope in the bank, public institutions or at the notary?
  • Do they understand the consequences of financial transactions such as the necessity to pay for a purchase at the store? Do they understand the value of money?
  • Is there a risk of exploitation?