What is a guardianship order?

This is a court appointment which authorises a person to act and make decisions on behalf of an adult with incapacity. Anyone with an interest can make an application for a guardianship order. When we refer to an adult, this is someone who is aged over 16 who is not able to look after their own affairs.

Guardianship is likely to be more suitable when decisions need to be taken on an ongoing basis.

Before applying for a guardianship order, you should seek legal advice to make sure the appointment will benefit the adult and is appropriate under the circumstances.

Types of powers

The types of decisions that are to be taken on behalf of the adult will determine the powers that you might need, such as:
  • Financial - powers in relation to the finances and property belonging to the adult.
  • Welfare - powers in relation to making welfare decisions for the adult.
  • Combination of financial/property and welfare - powers, if required can be applied for separately but generally they are made together within the same application to the sheriff court.
After taking legal advice, if the application is considered to be both appropriate and beneficial to the adult, the application will include a list of the powers you need to allow you to look after the adult’s affairs. Powers can be requested to deal with the adult’s property and/or financial affairs and/or to make decisions about their personal welfare.

Based on the adult’s condition and circumstances, the Sheriff will decide how long the order should last. It is usual for orders to be granted for a period of 3 years; however it might be granted for a longer period of time or indeed for the lifetime of the adult.

What are the responsibilities of a financial guardian?

Financial guardians will have certain administrative responsibilities to fulfil. The first year of financial guardianship is likely to be time consuming, as there are specific administrative tasks that you will need to complete. By taking on the role of financial guardian you will be accepting this responsibility and it is therefore important that you consider if you have the time and ability to commit to the appointment.

Who can apply to be a guardian?

Anyone with an interest in the adult can apply to the sheriff court for an order. This could be:
  • a family member,
  • a carer of the adult,
  • a professional person (solicitor, accountant, etc),
  • the Chief Social Work Officer of the local authority.
Several people can be involved in the application process. An application can be made to appoint more than 1 guardian and / or substitute guardians. It is possible for the applicant and the guardian to be different people. For example, you may be willing to be appointed under the guardianship order but you may prefer the local authority to carry out the technical business of applying for the order, obtaining the necessary reports, and appearing before the Sheriff. It should be noted that this would be at the discretion of the local authority.

Children about to reach the age of 16

For children who are about to reach the age of 16, you can apply for a guardianship order up to three months before their 16th birthday. This means that the guardianship order will take effect on the date of their birthday.

Contact our Private Client Solicitors: Stirling, Bridge of Allan & Alloa, Scotland

One of our private client solicitors will be available for a meeting with you at one of our offices in Stirling, Bridge of Allan & Alloa in Scotland or in your own home. Please complete our online contact form, email us or telephone your nearest office to get an immediate response and advice.


While this website attempts to cover the areas of law most commonly encountered by our clients, we are always happy to discuss other issues and provide advice or referrals where necessary. Contact us by telephone or e-mail to arrange an appointment for prompt attention on any matter.

Whatever your problem we are here to help.

Office Locations

Mailers, Stirling
Jubilee House, Forthside Way, Stirling FK8 1QZ

Mailers, Alloa
70 Drysdale Street, Alloa FK10 1JA

Mailers, Bridge of Allan
88 Henderson Street, Bridge of Allan, FK9 4HA

Office hours

Mon-Fri: 9.00 - 5.00pm

Sat-Sun: Closed
appointments outwith office hours or at your home or office may be available by arrangement.