guardianship

Many of our loved ones are turning 60 years old this year. Some of our relatives or good friends are already seniors! Among those seniors that we care about, many may have developed a disability in recent years. In many cases, these loved ones need support physically, emotionally and financially.  They need a trustworthy companion who can manage their affairs.  It is for these reasons that the courts of every state allow guardians to be appointed.

How would you answer these questions:  Do you believe your relative or good friend is in need of someone to protect them as they cannot take care of themselves? Can they make their trips to the doctor on time? Are they receiving their prescriptions and are they taking their medicines appropriately or at all?  Has he/she failed to appoint an agent/representative for these matters through a validly-drafted power of attorney? If you would answer affirmatively to any of these questions, it may be time to guard your loved one through a guardianship.

Becoming or appointing a guardian is not an easy task, however. A bittersweet reality of the guardianship process is that there is so much involved that unless an attorney is there to assist, becoming a guardian can go awry — for both parties. It is sweet because the court takes care to “turn every stone” in the process prior to giving your civil right authority (to make your own decisions) away.  This is a good thing.  It’s bitter, however, because at times, the process can be unbearable for all parties involved.  The thought of being responsible for making the life decisions of another and the paperwork that goes with that decision, along with the court-driven process, is enough for anyone to decide to not become one!

Our office is committed to helping those who want to help others by becoming a guardian. What follows are three things you should know before becoming a guardian.

Guardianships are legal in every state.

A guardian is a person designated to make major life choices — such as healthcare-related decisions for persons who are unable to think or speak for themselves. Guardianships are allowed and recognized in every U.S. state and are ideal for the protection of those who have no plans in place for their well-being. In 2012, 34 states began to adhere to the Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act, to protect both parties involved. Please contact our office to learn more about how the Act protects you and your loved ones.

Guardianship protects the mentally and physically disabled.

In some cases, adults become terminally ill or suffer accident-related ailments that would keep them from being able to do what many of us might see as routine tasks, like making doctor’s appointments, exercising and walking the dog. A court-appointed guardian could intervene so that the mentally and physically disabled individual is able to live a life of normalcy and maintain his/her dignity. In such cases, the court will work with the guardian to determine the severity of the circumstances of the person in need of guardianship. A review of his or her mental and physical health is often required so that the status of the guardian’s (and the ward of the state’s) duties can be fairly determined.

Guardianships can be revoked by a court of law.

A guardian may be dismissed by a court of law if adequate care for the appointee has not been found. If any form of neglect has been discovered, such as failure to make doctor’s appointments or provide required medicines, a new guardian can be appointed by a judge. The family of the appointee might not agree with the decision to remove a guardian, and not too many people want the court system to get this involved in the decision to appoint another caregiver.  It is therefore is extremely important to choose someone trustworthy in the beginning, while also following the appropriate steps to obtaining the appointment. The attorneys of our office are well-equipped to help you navigate this process for the benefit of the incapacitated or disabled individual.

The purpose of the appointment of a guardian is to ensure that your loved one is in good hands when he/she can no longer care for himself or herself.   In these proceedings, the court’s role is to determine if the individual needs someone in that role (due to his/her inability to manage his/her own affairs), and then to identify the most appropriate person for the job.  Where no appropriate friend or family member is available or present, the court will appoint a professional.  The best guardianship situations involve a collaborative approach to such appointments, between the court and the individual’s loved ones.  For that reason alone, it is important to consult and/or hire an attorney before pursuing a guardianship so that you can move forward appropriately. Feel free to contact our office at The TGQ Law Firm today to discuss your options.  We look forward to hearing from you!

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