Estate planning includes being prepared for the care of our affairs, not only when we are gone, but while we are living. One way to accomplish this without court involvement may be through the use of Powers of Attorney for our finances and healthcare. However, many of us become incapacitated or otherwise ineligible to execute such a document. In these instances, caring family or loved ones can petition the court to appoint a guardianship and/or conservatorship to protect an individual's health and assets, respectively. It is important to know when these options may be necessary.
Many of us are concerned that a loved one, e.g., a parent, grandparent, or disabled child reaching the age of 18, may need help making decisions for them. However, many of us do not always know what to look for in determining whether someone requires a guardian/conservator.
For example, some individuals may have a medical condition affecting them mentally or otherwise, which may require medical or financial assistance. In some of these cases however, these same individuals possess the cognitive ability and willingness to seek professional help in maintaining their health, as well as their assets; despite coping with their condition. Unless these individuals request it, they may not need a guardianship or conservatorship; or, if they require one, it may only be on a limited basis.
Where there lies greater concern is when an individual's condition compromises their ability to make or communicate informed decisions for their well-being and cannot reach for help on their own. This condition may also pose concern that assets will be wasted or dissipated unless protection of a court-ordered fiduciary is made available.
Families and loved ones should discuss these options to care for one another when health concerns arise. Contact Gee Law for a consultation on what to look for and possible courses of action based on your circumstances.