The adult guardianship system — introduced in 2000 to help incapacitated people who have lost the ability to make proper judgment and decisions on their own — is still not being widely used. The system has also suffered setbacks from a series of wrongdoings by the guardians of those people, such as embezzling the bank accounts of their wards. The government is discussing ways to improve the system. Relevant parties should come up with ideas that will be effective in both expanding the use and preventing abuse of the system.
Under the system, when an adult has lost the capacity to make rational decisions due to such problems as senile dementia or intellectual and mental disabilities, a request is filed with a family court to select a guardian. The request is generally filed by a relative or an administrative official. The guardian is supposed to support the incapacitated person by managing their assets and signing contracts for such matters as nursing care services.
The role of guardian is usually filled by a relative, a professional such as a lawyer, legal scrivener or social worker, a trained local citizen or an organization like a social welfare council. Professionals account for about 70 percent of the people serving as guardians.