2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 54. Guardianships and conservatorships.
54.10 Appointment of guardian.

Universal Citation: WI Stat § 54.10 (2017)

54.10 Appointment of guardian.

(1) A court may appoint a guardian of the person or a guardian of the estate, or both, for an individual if the court determines that the individual is a minor.

(2)

(a) A court may appoint a guardian of the estate for an individual if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the individual is aged at least 18 years and is a spendthrift.

(b) In appointing a guardian of the estate under this subsection or determining what powers are appropriate for the guardian of the estate to exercise under s. 54.18 or 54.20, the court shall consider all of the following:

1. The report of the guardian ad litem, as required in s. 54.40 (4).

2. The medical or psychological report provided under s. 54.36 (1) and any additional medical, psychological, or other evaluation ordered by the court under s. 54.40 (4) (e) or offered by a party and received by the court.

3. Whether other reliable resources are available to provide for the individual's personal needs or property management, and whether appointment of a guardian of the estate is the least restrictive means to provide for the individual's need for a substitute decision maker.

4. The preferences, desires, and values of the individual with regard to personal needs or property management.

5. The nature and extent of the individual's care and treatment needs and property and financial affairs.

6. Whether the individual's situation places him or her at risk of abuse, exploitation, neglect, or violation of rights.

7. The extent of the demands placed on the individual by his or her personal needs and by the nature and extent of his or her property and financial affairs.

8. Any mental disability, alcoholism, or other drug dependence of the individual and the prognosis of the mental disability, alcoholism, or other drug dependence.

9. Whether the effect on the individual's evaluative capacity is likely to be temporary or long term, and whether the effect may be ameliorated by appropriate treatment.

10. Other relevant evidence.

(c) Before appointing a guardian of the estate under this subsection or determining what powers are appropriate for the guardian of the estate to exercise under s. 54.18 or 54.20, the court shall determine if additional medical, psychological, social, vocational, or educational evaluation is necessary for the court to make an informed decision respecting the individual.

(d) In appointing a guardian of the estate under this subsection, the court shall authorize the guardian of the estate to exercise only those powers under ss. 54.18 and 54.20 that are necessary to provide for the individual's personal needs and property management and to exercise the powers in a manner that is appropriate to the individual and that constitutes the least restrictive form of intervention.

(3)

(a) A court may appoint a guardian of the person or a guardian of the estate, or both, for an individual based on a finding that the individual is incompetent only if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that all of the following are true:

1. The individual is aged at least 17 years and 9 months.

2. For purposes of appointment of a guardian of the person, because of an impairment, the individual is unable effectively to receive and evaluate information or to make or communicate decisions to such an extent that the individual is unable to meet the essential requirements for his or her physical health and safety.

3. For purposes of appointment of a guardian of the estate, because of an impairment, the individual is unable effectively to receive and evaluate information or to make or communicate decisions related to management of his or her property or financial affairs, to the extent that any of the following applies:

a. The individual has property that will be dissipated in whole or in part.

b. The individual is unable to provide for his or her support.

c. The individual is unable to prevent financial exploitation.

4. The individual's need for assistance in decision making or communication is unable to be met effectively and less restrictively through appropriate and reasonably available training, education, support services, health care, assistive devices, or other means that the individual will accept.

(b) Unless the proposed ward is unable to communicate decisions effectively in any way, the determination under par. (a) may not be based on mere old age, eccentricity, poor judgment, or physical disability.

(c) In appointing a guardian under this subsection, declaring incompetence to exercise a right under s. 54.25 (2) (c), or determining what powers are appropriate for the guardian to exercise under s. 54.18, 54.20, or 54.25 (2) (d), the court shall consider all of the following:

1. The report of the guardian ad litem, as required in s. 54.40 (4).

2. The medical or psychological report provided under s. 54.36 (1) and any additional medical, psychological, or other evaluation ordered by the court under s. 54.40 (4) (e) or offered by a party and received by the court.

3. Whether the proposed ward has engaged in any advance planning for financial and health care decision making that would avoid guardianship, including by executing a durable power of attorney under ch. 244, a power of attorney for health care, as defined in s. 155.01 (10), a trust, or a jointly held account.

4. Whether other reliable resources are available to provide for the individual's personal needs or property management, and whether appointment of a guardian is the least restrictive means to provide for the individual's need for a substitute decision maker.

5. The preferences, desires, and values of the individual with regard to personal needs or property management.

6. The nature and extent of the individual's care and treatment needs and property and financial affairs.

7. Whether the individual's situation places him or her at risk of abuse, exploitation, neglect, or violation of rights.

8. Whether the individual can adequately understand and appreciate the nature and consequences of his or her impairment.

9. The individual's management of the activities of daily living.

10. The individual's understanding and appreciation of the nature and consequences of any inability he or she may have with regard to personal needs or property management.

11. The extent of the demands placed on the individual by his or her personal needs and by the nature and extent of his or her property and financial affairs.

12. Any physical illness of the individual and the prognosis of the individual.

13. Any mental disability, alcoholism, or other drug dependence of the individual and the prognosis of the mental disability, alcoholism, or other drug dependence.

14. Any medication with which the individual is being treated and the medication's effect on the individual's behavior, cognition, and judgment.

15. Whether the effect on the individual's evaluative capacity is likely to be temporary or long term, and whether the effect may be ameliorated by appropriate treatment.

16. Other relevant evidence.

(d) Before appointing a guardian under this subsection, declaring incompetence to exercise a right under s. 54.25 (2) (c), or determining what powers are appropriate for the guardian to exercise under s. 54.18, 54.20, or 54.25 (2) (d), the court shall determine if additional medical, psychological, social, vocational, or educational evaluation is necessary for the court to make an informed decision respecting the individual's competency to exercise legal rights and may obtain assistance in the manner provided in s. 55.11 (1) whether or not protective placement is made.

(e) In appointing a guardian under this subsection, the court shall authorize the guardian to exercise only those powers under ss. 54.18, 54.20, and 54.25 (2) (d) that are necessary to provide for the individual's personal needs and property management and to exercise the powers in a manner that is appropriate to the individual and that constitutes the least restrictive form of intervention.

(f)

1. If the court appoints a guardian of the person under this subsection, the court shall determine if, under 18 USC 922 (g) (4), the individual is prohibited from possessing a firearm. If the individual is prohibited, the court shall order the individual not to possess a firearm, order the seizure of any firearm owned by the individual, and inform the individual of the requirements and penalties under s. 941.29.

2.

a. If a court orders under subd. 1. an individual not to possess a firearm, the individual may petition that court or the court in the county where the individual resides to cancel the order.

b. The court considering the petition under subd. 2. a. shall grant the petition if the court determines that the circumstances regarding the appointment of a guardian under this subsection and the individual's record and reputation indicate that the individual is not likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety and that the granting of the petition would not be contrary to public interest.

c. If the court grants the petition under subd. 2. b., the court shall cancel the order under subd. 1. and order the return of any firearm ordered seized under subd. 1.

3. In lieu of ordering the seizure under subd. 1., the court may designate a person to store the firearm until the order under subd. 1. is canceled under subd. 2. c.

4. If the court orders under subd. 1. an individual not to possess a firearm or cancels under subd. 2. c. an order issued under subd. 1., the court clerk shall notify the department of justice of the order or cancellation and provide any information identifying the individual that is necessary to permit an accurate firearms restrictions record search under s. 175.35 (2g) (c), a background check under s. 175.60 (9g) (a), or an accurate response under s. 165.63. No other information from the individual's court records may be disclosed to the department of justice except by order of the court. The department of justice may disclose information provided under this subdivision only to respond to a request under s. 165.63, as part of a firearms restrictions record search under s. 175.35 (2g) (c), under rules the department of justice promulgates under s. 175.35 (2g) (d), or as part of a background check under s. 175.60 (9g) (a).

(4) If the court appoints both a guardian of the person and a guardian of the estate for an individual other than an individual found to be a spendthrift, the court may appoint separate persons to be guardian of the person and of the estate, or may appoint one person to act as both.

(5) The court may appoint coguardians of the person or coguardians of the estate, subject to any conditions that the court imposes.

History: 2005 a. 387; 2007 a. 45; 2009 a. 258, 319; 2013 a. 223.

Under former s. 880.03, in evaluating a petition for a permanent guardianship on behalf of a minor filed by a non-parent when a parent objects, a court must first determine whether the party bringing the guardianship petition has shown that the child is in need of a guardian because there exist extraordinary circumstances requiring medical aid or the prevention of harm. Absent a showing of such extraordinary circumstances or need for a guardian, the court cannot appoint a guardian. Robin K. v. Lamanda M. 2006 WI 68, 291 Wis. 2d 333, 718 N.W.2d 38, 04-0767.

In a custody dispute triggered by a petition for guardianship between a birth parent and a non-parent, the threshold inquiry is whether the parent is unfit, unable to care for the child, or there are compelling reasons for awarding custody to the non-parent. Consideration of a minor's nomination of a guardian presupposes that the need for a guardian has been established. If it is determined that the birth parent is fit and able to care for the child and no compelling reasons exist to appoint a non-parent guardian, the minor's nomination of a guardian becomes moot. Nicholas C. L. v. Julie R. L. 2006 WI App 119, 293 Wis. 2d 819, 719 N.W.2d 508, 05-1754.

NOTE: The above annotations relate to guardianships under ch. 880, stats., prior to the revision of and renumbering of that chapter to ch. 54 by 2005 Wis. Act 387.

Section 752.31 (2) (d) and (3) provide that appeals in protective placement cases under ch. 55 are heard by a single court of appeals judge while the general rule under s. 752.31 (1) is that cases disposed of on the merits, including guardianship orders under ch. 54, are heard by a 3-judge panel. When an appeal is taken from a single action granting both a guardianship and protective placement petition, the appeal is to be decided by a 3-judge panel. Waukesha County v. Genevieve M. 2009 WI App 173, 322 Wis. 2d 131, 776 N.W.2d 640, 09-1755.

Barstad, 118 Wis. 2d 549, rejected the “best interests" standard in custody disputes between parents and third parties. Barstad has not been quashed by the enactment of ch. 54. A best interests standard that does not consider a parent's constitutional rights is incomplete. To conclude otherwise, parents would routinely have parental rights stripped from them simply because a 3rd party might be better situated to tend to the needs of the child. Cynthia H. v. Joshua O. 2009 WI App 176, 322 Wis. 2d 615, 777 N.W.2d 664, 08-2456.

An Intro to Minor Guardianship Actions. Viney. Wis. Law. Sept. 2014.

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