Sometimes special circumstances require adults to seek care from other,
more capable persons who have their best interest at heart. Whether the
reasons stem from the development of a serious illness, or a mental or
physical disability, some adults require an appointed guardian. Guardianship
proceedings may be initiated by anyone interested in the welfare of the
proposed ward. This includes anyone who indicates that the proposed ward
may be incapacitated and in need of an appointed guardian.
An individual filing a petition for guardianship is required by Colorado
statute to notify the proposed ward, along with the proposed ward’s:
- Spouse or partner in a civil union or, if the respondent has none, an adult
with whom the respondent has resided for more than 6 months within 1 year
before the filing of the petition; and
- Adult children and parents.
There are also requirements to notify legal representatives, caretakers,
treating physicians, and all nominated guardians. It has been our experience
at Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C. that many guardianship proceeding
notification lists fail to notify every required party. Most notably absent
are the significant others of the proposed wards whom were not married
nor residing with the proposed ward.
With increasing frequency, we see elderly individuals who are widowed and
subsequently enter into relationships that do not lead to marriage. These
couples often maintain their relationships on a long-term basis, sometimes
for decades. The reasons the individuals do not choose to be married are
usually numerous and personal. Nevertheless, a loving companion often
serves as a close confidant, most trusted friend, and can become an indispensable
part of a person’s life.
Under the current Colorado statute, the significant other of a proposed
ward would not receive notice of the inception of a guardianship proceeding.
And, when a guardian is appointed, there is a possibility that the guardian
would interfere in the proposed ward’s relationship with his or
her significant other. If an individual who is not entitled to notice
under the statute would like to be added as an interested person in the
guardianship proceeding, that individual may petition the court to be
added as an “interested person” under C.R.S. § 15-14-116.
An interested person, as defined under C.R.S. § 15-10-201(27), may
include any heirs, devisees, children, spouses, creditors, and beneficiaries.
It could also extend to anyone else with a property right in, or claim
against, a trust estate or estate of the ward that could be affected by
Sometimes a significant other will not fall within this definition because
they may not have a property right or claim related to the ward’s
assets. However, the definition of “interested person” also
gives the court discretion to adapt based upon individual circumstances.
At Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C. , we believe this leaves an opening
for a significant other to petition the court and explain why he or she
should be added as an interested person in the guardianship proceeding.
Specifically, the definition of interested person states that “The
meaning [of interested person] as it relates to the particular persons
may vary from time to time and shall be determined according to the particular
purposes of, and matter involved in, any proceeding.”
If you are the significant other of a proposed ward in a guardianship proceeding,
we may be able to help you. Although you may not have a clear statutory
right to notice, it could be beneficial to retain legal counsel to help
navigate your rights with respect to your involvement in the proceedings.
Our firm can also help you petition the court to be added as an interested person.
For legal help, contact Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C.
and speak with one of our attorneys.