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For Wisconsin families planning to become their adult child’s legal guardian, a new training is now required before the petition for guardianship will be approved by your county’s circuit court.

Guardianship: A legal process of transferring rights from one person (“the ward”) to another. The ward must be found to not have the capacity to make his or her own decisions, as documented by a medical evaluation. Read more at Guardianship Training Requirement.

Starting the Guardianship Process

To be appointed as a guardian for a young adult with disabilities, families must submit a request to their county circuit court. Many families start this process around the time of their child’s 18th birthday, but it can be completed at any time at or after age 18. An Examining Physician or Psychologist Report and a Petition for Temporary or Permanent Guardianship also need to be completed.

Tip for Families

Did you know that before a guardianship can be approved in Wisconsin, all less restrictive options must be considered first? Reversing guardianship can be difficult, so it’s important that families carefully consider other options before moving ahead with guardianship.

To learn about the other options to guardianship, see the Supported Decision-Making Toolkit and the Family Voices Supported Decision-Making fact sheet.

What is the New Requirement?

Starting January 1, 2023, Wisconsin state law requires each person (parent, family member or other potential guardian) to complete the Guardianship Training and their training evaluation. The training must be completed no later than four days—96 hours—before the final hearing. There is no charge for this training.

This training is required for those petitioning to be a permanent guardian of a person and/or a guardian of the estate (their assets or finances). There are no exceptions to this requirement. It is not required for those seeking temporary guardianship. If a parent or other potential guardian has problems completing the course, they can contact their county circuit clerk of courts as soon as possible before their court date.

Wisconsin Court System – Circuit court clerk contact information (wicourts.gov)

The training covers the following topics:

    • Responsibilities of the guardian including annual paperwork and documentation
    • Limits to the guardian’s decision-making authority
    • The rights of a ward
    • Best practices related to following the ward’s wishes and decisions
    • Alternatives to guardianship and reasons to consider alternatives

It also has several short videos of adults with disabilities talking about their experiences related to the guardianship process and alternatives.

After completing the training, you need to fill out the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay course evaluation. The Wisconsin Training Registry is then notified that you have completed all requirements and your name is added to the Guardian Registry.

Co-Guardians: Does Each Person Need to Complete the Course?

YES, each person must complete the online training. When all the sections are complete, your name will be submitted to the state’s Guardian Registry. The county court where the family submits their request for guardianship then verifies that this requirement has been met.

What About Standby or Successor Guardians?

As part of the Guardianship process, families may decide to appoint “standby” or “successor” guardians in case the primary guardians are no longer able to fulfill their responsibilities. The standby/successor guardians are encouraged to take the training, but the county circuit court decides if it’s required. To find out if it’s required in your county contact your county clerk Wisconsin Court System – Circuit court clerk contact information (wicourts.gov).  

Accessing the Training

Wisconsin’s Guardianship Training is free and available as a self-paced, online course 24/7. If you prefer to have a printed copy or get the materials emailed to you, call the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay at 920.465.2691 or email staff at guardian@uwgb.edu.

How do I Start the Training?

Go to the guardianship training website and sign up for the guardianship registry and training course. This video has step-by-step instructions on this process How to Register for the Guardianship Training – YouTube.

  1. The course platform is called Canvas. If you have questions, call Canvas support for students at 855. 651.9400. Canvas support is available 24/7 but only helps with issues related to accessing the online training, not registry or other general questions. When you call, identify yourself as a Continuing Education Student.
  2. When you’ve registered and created a login and password, you can start and stop the course at any time. It will bring you back to where you left off.

Where Can I Get Help?

If you have questions regarding the Guardianship training, call the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay at 920.465.2691 or email guardian@uwgb.edu.

How Long is the Training?

The course developers, the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay, in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, estimate that it should take around two to three hours to complete.

What’s in the Training?

There are 15 modules in this training. Each module has a video with slides and links to resources as well as a brief quiz to verify that you understand the material. 

Is the Material Available in Other Languages?

The materials are currently only available in English, but Spanish and Hmong versions will be available in fall or winter 2023.

Benefits of this New Training

This new training requirement increases the time and effort for families seeking guardianship for their young adult, but it has several strong benefits. The information it contains helps families understand the impact of this court-ordered process, what Guardianship means for families and their adult children, and alternatives to try before seeking guardianship.



Family Voices of Wisconsin, 2023©  |  familyvoiceswi.org



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