Guardianships can help families plan for the care of disabled and aging loved ones who have become incapacitated. A guardianship is a legal tool that allows one person to make decisions for another person.
The guardian is able to make important personal, financial and healthcare decisions for the the disabled or incapacitated individual referred to as a ward. Typically, the guardian must be 18 years of age or older. If the guardian is named by the ward as a trusted individual to care for their financial and medical affairs in circumstances of incapacity, then they will generally be appointed by the court. If the ward has not expressed their wishes for a guardian, the court will examine documents that may express their wishes for a guardian.
It is helpful to be familiar with the laws for appointing a guardian in the state where the ward lives. The powers of the guardian typically include ensuring the availability of care for the ward; making financial decisions for the ward; making medical decisions for the ward; ensuring the educational and medical services for the ward are maintained and adequate; and updating the court concerning the ward’s condition.
All of the powers of a guardian are important which is why it is beneficial to understand how guardianships work when a loved one has become incapacitated or is disabled and how a guardianship can help in those situations. Guardianships can be a valuable part of the overall estate planning process that estate planners and families should be familiar with.