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What Is Legal Guardianship?

What Is Legal Guardianship?

Posted By Boswell & Dunlap LLP || 12-Jan-2017

A legal guardian is someone appointed with the legal authority to care for the personal and property interests of another person. Legal guardians can care for seniors, minors, and/or the developmentally disabled. A legal guardian’s job is to make the financial or medical decision for the person concerned, as they are considered incapable of doing so themselves.

Guardians for Seniors

If you’re planning for retirement, you might also want to start planning for end-of-life situations. While you may be in perfect health and nowhere near age-related illnesses, now is the time to prepare for a time when you can no longer easily care for yourself. Some people’s families have a history of dementia or Alzheimer’s, in which case it is their responsibility to plan for that eventuality even if they remain perfectly capable of self-care for the rest of their lives. After all, you would rather over plan than leave your family unsure of how to care for you if you develop a debilitating illness. You can appoint a legal and medical guardian for yourself in your will, meaning in the event of your mental incapacitation, the guardian can make financial and medical decisions on your behalf.

Adults sometimes find themselves in the position of caring for their elderly parents without knowing how to handle financial or medical decisions. In these cases, families can decide on one person who will be the guardian of the older family member. The guardian will be in charge of managing care, shelter, finances, and treatment of the elderly individual.

Guardians for Minors

In the unfortunate event a child loses their parents, he or she will become a ward of the state if a legal guardian was not chosen by the parents before their deaths. Similarly to a guardian for seniors, a guardian for minors ensures the child has food, shelter, financial management, and medical care. In addition, the guardian will guarantee the child receives an education until adulthood, after which the child will legally be able to make decisions on his or her behalf. It may be difficult to think about, but if you have kids, make a will that details whom you would like to be their legal guardian until they become adults. Whether the guardian is a grandparent, a sibling, or a trusted friend, make sure your kid isn’t relegated to the foster-care system.

Guardians for the Developmentally Disabled

If you know your child will be unable to care for himself or herself financially or medically after reaching adulthood, you can be appointed a legal guardian of your adult child. You will then be legally able to make decisions for your child when he or she is unable to do so.

Appointing a guardian can be difficult, as it requires you to think about situations you hope will never happen. However, make sure you make the difficult decision today to spare your relatives (or the state) from having to make harder decisions for you later. To legally appoint a guardian, you will have to rely on a good attorney. Contact us to speak to a guardianship lawyer about your case. We offer free consultations.

Categories: Estate Planning

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