Legal English: Peter’s Pills – Lesson 8 – Guardianship

La pillola di Peter, questo mercoledì, ci lancia direttamente nel tema del Convegno che abbiamo organizzato per il 14 maggio 2021. La protezione degli adulti incapaci ha complicati risvolti di diritto internazionale privato che saranno oggetto della relazione del prof. Franzina e che si affrontano meglio se si dispone di una buona padronanza dell’inglese giuridico.

Legal English for Notaries - By Federnotizie



Hello! People often ask me how they can translate “amministratore di sostegno“, “tutore“, and “curatore” in English..

Sometimes it is not possible to find a direct translation for certain legal terms and it is better to describe those terms using concepts in English because distinctions are created differently and various jurisdictions use different terminology for these distinctions.

First of all, the subject we are talking about is called guardianship. This is the legal process used to protect individuals who are unable to care for themselves or make their own decisions due to:

  • infancy,
  • incapacity, or
  • disability.

The most general term you can use to describe a person who is appointed in these cases is a guardian or legal guardian and a person who needs a guardian is called “ward” or “ward of court“.

There are two types of guardianships, namely:

  • a full guardianship, and
  • a limited guardianship.

Under a full guardianship, the guardian is given the authority to make all decisions. Under a limited guardianship the guardian is given the authority to make only those decisions which ward is unable to make.

In the UK and a few other jurisdictions guardians are called “deputies” when appointed for adults (this term is not used for minors), but if you call them guardians, everyone will understand.

There are 3 different types of guardians:

  • welfare guardians (also called personal welfare deputies) – who make decisions about medical treatment and care arrangements
  • financial guardians (also called estate guardians or property and financial affairs deputies) – who deal with practical matters such as paying bills and managing pensions
  • combined financial and welfare guardians – who handle both welfare and financial matters

Another word you need to know is conservator. This is the name sometimes given to financial guardians. Here we are dealing with conservatorship and a person under conservatorship is called a “conservatee”.

The last term to look at is “law guardian” (or “guardian ad litem” or “curator at litem). In some jurisdictions the law guardian represents a child in court, and their role is to assure that the court hears an unbiased (imparziale; obiettivo) view of what is in the child’s best interest, without the parents’ influence.

Thank you very much, and see you next time for more Peter’s Pills to improve your Legal English.

See more about the duties of deputies in the UK here: “Deputies: make decisions for someone who lacks capacity“.

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