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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we discuss the various reasons why a guardianship would be removed or modified. We also examine the legal conditions for removal, and the process of removing a guardianship in Iowa.

Why Must a Guardianship be Modified?

Sometimes a guardianship will need to be modified due to a change in the ward’s physical or mental capacity. The guardian may require more powers to make choices for the ward, or if the ward’s physical or mental capacity improves the ward or other interested parties may feel the guardian should have his or her powers reduced. 

Changing or modifying a guardianship is more or less the same as the setup process. A “petition for modification” is filed with the court by the interested party, a hearing will be set, and any interested party may present his or her facts at the hearing. Just like in the original hearing, the court will decide what level of guardianship is required. A “limited” guardianship is often the case when it appears that less responsibility needs to be held by the guardian. Ultimately, the court will decide what level of modification is necessary, with the focus being giving the guardian as few responsibilities as what is deemed necessary?

How to Remove a Guardian

Reasons for removing a guardian are numerous, but most deal with the ward becoming competent to take care of themselves or the guardianship showing behavior that suggests he or she is unfit to be a guardian. An Iowa guardian may be removed under any of the following:

  • Becoming physically or mentally unable to handle the duties assigned as guardian;
  • Neglect or deprivation of the ward by the guardian;
  • Failing to file an inventory or accounting after being ordered to do so by the court;
  • Mismanagement of the estate;
  • Malfeasance;
  • A better match as guardian is apparent;
  • Conviction of a felony;
  • Endangering a co-guardian or bond surety for the guardian through his or her behavior;
  • Any other good reason as determined by the court

Ending a guardianship is the same as starting or modifying one. A petition is filed to remove the guardian and a hearing date is set up. If the ward is seeking to remove the guardian and establish his or her rights without limits the burden of proof falls on the ward to prove his or her competence. This would typically involve evidence such as medical and or psychological tests and any other pertinent testimony. If opposing, the guardian must provide proof contrary to the ward’s argument, whether that be in support of the ward’s incompetence and the necessity for a guardian, or in support of his or her own continuing role as the guardian. 

Guardianship Hearings

Once the petition for the removal of the guardian has been filed a summons will be issued by the court to the guardian and must be delivered within the appropriate time-frame. From here the guardian can file his or her response to the petition, which may be in the form of a written statement denying or confirming the facts present in the petition, or a motion to dismiss, or some other answer. Ultimately, the court will decide whether to modify or remove the guardianship

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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