The guardianship authority

Tasks of the guardianship authority

Within the framework of the guardianship law, there is also an independent law for official tasks in the field of guardianship law, the guardianship authority law (Betreuungsbehördengesetz, BtBG).

The tasks of the guardianship authority can be divided as follows:

  • Tasks in the run-up to guardianships (advice and support for guardians; participation in the training and further education of guardians)
  • Assistance to the guardianship court (determination of facts for the court, appointment of guardians vis-à-vis the court, rights of appeal against court decisions, presentation tasks)
  • Authentication of signatures and hand signatures under health care powers of attorney and care dispositions
  • Management of guardianships by employees of the guardianship authority
  • Additional tasks according to state law (e.g. organization of local guardianship working groups)

Applications and forms on the subject of guardianship and health care power of attorney

Forms on the subject of guardianship law

Care law in easy language

What does legal guardianship mean?

This refers to the legal representation of people of full age who are no longer able to take care of their legal affairs themselves due to mental illness, mental handicap or considerable physical disability. A person who can freely determine his or her will may not have a legal guardian appointed against his or her will (in accordance with Section 1896 (1a) of the German Civil Code).

The decision of the guardianship court on the guardianship order under German guardianship law is made in guardianship proceedings. This can be initiated by the person concerned himself, or by third parties (relatives, friends/acquaintances, various authorities or services) at the competent guardianship court.

The guardianship law came into force on 01.01.1992 and is anchored in the German Civil Code (BGB). By inserting the word legal in § 1896 BGB in 1999, it has been clarified that the care activity is a legal representation. So if it is only a matter of someone no longer being able to deal with purely factual matters independently (for example, no longer being able to run their household, no longer being able to leave their home, etc.), this does not normally justify the appointment of a guardian. In this case, it will normally come down to very practical assistance (e.g. keeping the apartment clean, providing food, calling in outpatient services), for which no legal representative is needed.

However, if there are no other helpers, the appointment of a guardian is necessary and possible for the organization of the help. The appointment of a guardian is not necessary if the affairs of the person concerned can be taken care of just as well by other offers of help. Other assistance can include family members, neighborhood help or social services, as well as third parties authorized by the person concerned.

Information on health care proxy, living will and advance directive

Accident, illness and old age Who will take care of my affairs if I am no longer able to do so myself? How can I make provisions in healthy days?

At some point, anyone can find themselves in a situation where others have to make decisions for them. Under German law, the spouse, partner or children are not automatically designated as legal representatives. In order to provide for such a situation in healthy days, the various forms of provision are briefly described below.

Health care proxy

In a health care power of attorney, the author names one or more trusted persons who are to take care of the necessary matters in the event of an emergency. The power of attorney regulates various areas, e.g. health matters (consent to medical measures), official and authority matters (submitting applications) and housing matters (notice of termination and dissolution of housing).

The authorized person, who holds the original of the power of attorney in his hands, is immediately capable of acting with it and can regulate the affairs, which are designated to him. It is always important to authorize a person whom one knows well and in whom one has confidence, because the granting of power of attorney is a kind of private contract. If someone is in possession of a power of attorney, he or she can use it to regulate all matters listed therein. But be careful: as a rule, no one checks whether the proxy is acting lawfully or in the interests of the principal.

It is also useful, but not mandatory by law, to have a power of attorney notarized. You have this option at the local guardianship authority for a fee of 10.00 euros. In the case of large assets, company matters or property matters to be settled at a later date, notarial advice and certification is advisable.

Advance directive for guardianship

If the legal way of legal representation is preferred, the guardianship court can be informed in a guardianship order which person should be appointed as guardian in the case of guardianship proceedings and who should not. It is important that the guardian represents a person only in matters that the person concerned can no longer handle himself. The guardianship court must take into account the proposals made in the guardianship order within the framework of Section 1897 (4) of the German Civil Code. For this reason, it is the duty of everyone to submit such a disposition to the guardianship court when judicial guardianship proceedings become known.

If the person proposed in the guardianship order is not suitable or willing to take over the guardianship, the guardianship court will select another person, if possible from the person's close environment. If no person is available who can take over the care on a voluntary basis, it is possible to appoint a third party voluntary or professional guardian.

Living will

The living will documents the will of a seriously ill patient in the event that he or she is no longer able to express himself or herself. It is an important indication of the presumed will of the person concerned with regard to medical treatment, limitation of treatment and care in the event of serious illnesses, such as irreversible unconsciousness, severe permanent brain damage or an illness leading to death.

In the living will, the person concerned can specify which medical measures he or she wishes or rejects for his or her medical care.

It is advisable to deal with the subject matter in detail and also to seek advice from a doctor. A living will should in any case contain precise and concrete formulations relating to the individual illness that may occur.

To make it easier for the guardianship courts to find a proxy if necessary and to avoid guardianship proceedings, powers of attorney and guardianship and living wills can be registered with the Central Register of Provisions of the Federal Chamber of Notaries (BNotK).

Honorary guardians

Are you interested in helping other people?

The guardianship authority is regularly looking for volunteer guardians for people in need of help.

Volunteer guardians are appointed by the guardianship court for people who are not (or no longer) able to manage their own affairs due to age, illness or disability. These people can be assisted by a guardian who represents them in matters that the person concerned cannot manage for themselves due to their illness.

The tasks and requirements of a guardian are manifold. For example, the guardian can be entrusted with financial matters (transferring current costs, making pension and nursing care insurance applications) or in the area of health (making appointments with specialists, accompanying the person concerned if necessary and organizing outpatient assistance). Other tasks may include dealing with official correspondence and negotiations with authorities, agencies and banks.

The voluntary guardian is accountable to the district court (just like the professional guardian), i.e. he or she must submit an annual report and - if asset management has been ordered - an annual statement of accounts.

Important: The guardian is legally obligated to take into account the wishes of the person under guardianship and to act in his or her best interests. Interested persons should have basic legal knowledge, empathy and assertiveness, a sense of responsibility and the willingness to undergo further training and acquire new knowledge.

The local guardianship authority is always available to provide advice and support to volunteer guardians.

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