According to a report from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), an estimated 1.5 million adults are under guardianship in the United States. Legal guardianship is one of the possible options through which parents can plan for the personal care of their children or an incapacitated adult in their absence. In Iowa, a guardian may be appointed by the court to care for the personal needs of a protected person.

If you need proper guidance in appointing a guardian for a protected person, or if you've been appointed as a guardian and want to understand your responsibilities, consulting with a knowledgeable Iowa guardianship attorney is important. At the Olberding Law Office, I have the resources and experience to guide and assist clients through the process of establishing legal guardianship. As your attorney, I can offer you the detailed legal counsel and support you need to appoint a guardian or execute your duties and responsibilities as a guardian to a minor child or incapacitated adult.

My firm - Olberding Law Office - is proud to serve clients throughout Nevada, Iowa, and the surrounding areas of Boone County, Story County, Hardin County, and Marshall County.


Guardianship is a fiduciary relationship in which a court grants a person (the guardian) the legal authority to care for the personal affairs of a child or individuals who are physically or mentally incapacitated. In Iowa, a court-order guardian has the legal authority to care for and take responsibility for:

  • A person (minor child) who is unable to legally take care of themselves or make decisions
  • An incapacitated person who is unable to care for himself or herself and make decisions

A guardian deals with the non-financial decisions regarding the protected person, including where the person lives and the type of healthcare they receive.


In order to be appointed as a guardian by an Iowa court, you must:

  • Be over 18 years of age
  • Be of sound mind
  • Not have a record of serious crimes
  • Be a legal resident of the United States


Here are some of the legal duties and responsibilities of a guardian in Iowa:

  • Make decisions regarding the care, comfort, and maintenance of the protected person
  • Determine where the person will live
  • Plan for healthcare services required by the protected person
  • Ensure that the protected person receives professional care and necessary emergency medical services
  • Ensure that the services provided meet the needs of the protected person
  • Make informed decisions regarding the general wellbeing and healthcare needs of the protected person.


As mentioned above, guardianship in Iowa only deals with non-financial decisions regarding the protected person. The court-appointed guardian cannot manage the person's property, assets, income, or other financial affairs. Only a conservator can handle such responsibilities. However, one person may be appointed as the guardian and conservator. This will require combining the guardianship and conservatorship cases into a single court action.


There are two types of guardianships in Iowa - full guardianship and limited guardianship.


A full, plenary, or general guardianship gives the guardian almost total control over the responsibilities and decision-making power for the protected person. The court-appointed guardian will be the one to make all decisions regarding the protected person's personal care and needs.


In a limited guardianship, there is only a specific set of responsibilities designated to the guardian. The protected person will still retain as much freedom as possible regarding decisions about their personal needs.


The new Iowa Minor Guardianship Proceedings Act imposes more requirements on individuals filing a petition to become guardians of minor children. The law also offers additional protections for biological parents, potential guardians, and children. Here are some key provisions of the law:

  • All proposed guardians must submit a thorough background check, including their criminal history.
  • Biological parents who agree to guardianship must submit a formal agreement stating the responsibilities of both the guardian and the parents.
  • The court will appoint a lawyer to represent parents who do not agree to guardianship.
  • An attorney and court visitor may be appointed to represent the child.
  • Court approval will be required for a guardian to deny all forms of visitation, communication, or interaction between the parents and their minor child.
  • An initial care plan must be filed by the guardian within 60 days of being appointed by the court.
  • The biological parents will cover the expenses associated with the guardianship proceedings.
  • Biological parents are still allowed to file a petition to terminate guardianship.


Unfortunately, a lot of American families are not aware of the vital roles guardianship plays in the lives of both minor children and incapacitated adults. Before you appoint a guardian or you start acting as one, it is important that you understand your role, responsibilities, and legal rights. Consulting with an experienced guardianship attorney is paramount for proper guidance and to navigate key decisions.

At Olberding Law Office, I have devoted my career to offering knowledgeable and comprehensive guidance in legal matters of guardianship and conservatorship. As your legal counsel, I can evaluate your unique circumstances, educate you about the guardianship process, and help you understand the legal options available to you. I can also explain your legal rights, duties, and responsibilities as a guardian and how to execute them. Using my extensive experience and legal understanding, I can guide you through the guardianship process and help you make informed decisions as a guardian.


If you need to appoint a guardian or if you've been appointed to serve as a guardian yourself, contact my firm - Olberding Law Office - today to schedule a consultation. I can offer you the comprehensive legal guidance and advocacy you need. My firm proudly represents clients in Nevada, Boone County, Story County, Hardin County, and Marshall County, Iowa.