The National Guardianship Association defines guardianship as follows:
“Guardianship, also, referred to as conservatorship, is a legal process, utilized when a person can no longer make or communicate safe or sound decisions about his/her person and/or property or has become susceptible to fraud or undue influence.”
As you can see, guardianship is not something you want to think about after it’s too late. Instead, you need to look into this right now, as the decisions you make today could have an impact on the way you are treated in the future.
Although you may not fully understand guardianship, it only takes a bit of information to better realize where you stand and what you are trying to accomplish. From there, you’ll feel much better about what may happen in the future if you are unable to communicate your decisions.
There are many things you need to know about guardianship if you are going to make all the right decisions. Here are five details to keep in mind:
1. There are Alternatives
Before you decide in favor of guardianship, there are a few other tactics that you may want to consider. These include but are not limited to:
- Living wills
- Health care surrogacy
- Community advocacy systems
- Durable powers of attorney for health care
- Durable powers of attorney for property
You can’t make the right decisions until you have a better idea of all your options. This is why you should also consider the strategies detailed above.
2. A Guardianship is a Big Deal
Once a guardian is appointed to make decisions, the person under guardianship loses the ability to make key decisions. They also lose many rights, such as:
- Determine where they live
- Make health care decisions
- Consent to medical treatment
- Manage real estate
- Own a firearm or other type of weapon
- Carry a valid driver’s license
3. Guardians have Many Responsibilities
Acting as a guardian is easier said than done. This person is staffed with a variety of responsibilities, some of which could include:
- Making end of life decisions
- Determining where a person should live
- Monitoring medical treatment
- Acting as a representative payee
- Filing reports to the court regarding the guardianship status
With so many responsibilities, it’s important that the person named guardian is fully aware of what is expected of him or her.
4. A Guardianship can End in Many Ways
Many people wonder how a guardianship comes to an end. There is no single answer to this question, but instead several events that could end a guardianship:
- The death of the person
- If a child reaches legal age, which is 18 in most states
- If a judge decides that a guardianship is no longer required
A guardian also has the right to request that the court relieves him or her of their guardianship duties. If this happens, the court is responsible for naming a new guardian.
5. You can Choose a Guardian for Your Child
As you create an estate plan, you will want to think about what would happen to your minor children in the event that you and the other parent, such as your spouse, pass on before they reach legal age.
When choosing a guardian for your child, don’t name just anybody. You hope that this will never come into play, but you don’t know what the future holds. It is best to choose the right guardian than to select the first person that comes to mind.
If you want to learn more about guardianship and estate planning, we are here to help. One of the best things you can do is download our free report entitled “Fifteen Common Reasons To Do Estate Planning.”
With this in hand, you will have a better idea of why now is the best time to create an estate plan. It will also open your eyes to many parts of this process, such as guardianship.
It is never easy to create an estate plan or deal with matters of guardianship, but this is something you must do if you want to act in a responsible manner. It will take some time to make the right decisions, but you will be glad that you did in the long run.
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