Dissolving Legal Guardianship in Kansas

by David Carnes

A Kansas court may appoint a guardian to care for an impaired adult or child whose parents are unfit or unavailable. Such a person is known as a "ward." Guardianships in Kansas are governed by state law. Termination of a guardianship is available on several bases, some of which require a court hearing. Regardless of whether a court hearing is required, termination of a guardianship requires a court order.

Termination Without a Hearing

A Kansas court may issue an order terminating guardianship without a hearing if the ward dies or was a minor who has just reached his 18th birthday. The court may also terminate the guardianship of a minor without a hearing if he has been declared legally emancipated under Kansas law by virtue of marriage, for example, or military service. It may refuse to terminate the guardianship of a ward who has just reached his 18thy birthday, however, if he is "impaired" -- unable to provide for his own physical health, safety or welfare due to a physical or mental condition.

Restoration of Capacity

In response to a petition asserting guardianship should be terminated because an impaired adult ward has regained the capacity to manage his own affairs, a court may grant a hearing if it determines probable cause exists to conclude that the ward has regained capacity. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court must issue an order terminating guardianship unless the clear weight of the evidence suggests the ward remains impaired.

Resignation and Removal

A guardian may petition the court to accept his resignation and an interested party, such as a relative or social services agency, may file a petition for the involuntary removal of a guardian. A guardian seeking to resign must include in his petition his reasons for wanting to resign and a petition seeking involuntary removal must assert a factual basis for removal, such as abuse of the ward or financial incapacity. In either case, a successor guardian must be appointed unless the court concludes the ward no longer requires a guardian. The court may convene a removal hearing on its own motion.

Paperwork

To petition a court for removal of a guardian, the petitioner must complete three forms: a petition for termination of a guardianship, an order terminating a guardianship and a final report. Although Kansas Legal Services offers free copies of each of these three documents, it is permissible to draft your own. The termination petition must include information about the guardian and the ward as well as the reasons for seeking termination of the guardianship. The order terminating a guardianship is a proposed termination order for the judge to sign, which he is free to modify or reject. The final report, to be completed by the guardian, summarizes details about the guardian's care of the ward.