Put simply, a legal guardian is a relative or close friend who takes care of a child or an adult in need. This includes providing food, shelter, access to education, and medical care. The person for whom a guardianship is sought is known as a "ward."
With respect to a guardianship over a child, a legal guardian has all the legal responsibilities of a parent with regard to care and support. What differentiates guardianship from adoption is that a caretaker does not need to terminate a child’s legal relationship to his or her parents in order to be a legal guardian. A guardianship will often provide a path for a parent to regain custody of their child.
With respect to a guardianship over an adult, it is used when an adult is in need. This can include an ailing parent or grandparent that is no longer capable of taking care of themselves or their affairs.
All guardians are held responsible by a Court. The Court can require an accounting of the ward's finances or a yearly report on doctor's appointments, etc.
The guardianship process can be complex and extremely nerve wracking. If you believe you need to seek a guardianship or if one is being sought over you or your child, it is important to have legal counsel that can navigate the system and help you achieve your goals.