GUARDIAN / Guardianship
As we age, some of us will experience diminished cognitive function and we will need help with both our financial and personal affairs. Often, a Life Care Plan is not in place and the court must appoint a Guardian to take over certain tasks for the individual. The time and money it takes to have a Guardianship granted can often be very lengthy and costly. Not to mention the stress placed on family members having to step in and manage the affairs for their loved one. It’s wise to plan ahead with the help of an experienced and competent attorney to help guide you through the Guardianship process.
What is a Guardian?
A Guardian is an individual that has agreed to take on the legal care and oversight of/for another person. As we stated above, a Guardian is appointed by the courts if/when an aging and/or disabled person has not named a Power of Attorney (POA) and is losing their ability to think clearly and handle basic aspects of their daily life.
Here are the 3 type of Guardianships:
- Guardian/Guardianship is a representative of someone who is mentally incapacitated and can no longer manage his/her own affairs. A clear example would be in the case of a dementia and Alzheimer patient. A loved one or friend can file a formal application with the state to become that person’s individual guardian. This is not a voluntary appointment. In New Jersey, it is “a person or agency appointed by a court to act on behalf of an individual.” The individual who is mentally incapacitated is known as a ward and the Guardian is given the duty and right to act on behalf of the ward in making certain decisions affecting the ward’s life.
- Limited Guardianship may be appropriate for individuals that can still care for themselves in some areas of their life, but may need help making other decisions. An example of a limited guardianship would be to allow a person with a sound mind but with a physical disability to retain independent decision making in their daily emotional and financial lives, while allowing the guardian to control their medical decisions. In this example, a health care professional may be appointed.
- Conservator / Conservatorship is a “guardian” of a person’s estate. The difference between a Guardianship and a Conservatorship is that a Conservatorship is voluntary and the aging senior (parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle) does not have to be mentally incapacitated. The conservator’s primary responsibilities are to manage and preserve their loved one’s income, assets and financial affairs.
What is a Power of Attorney?
Power of Attorney (POA) is often established when a senior of sound mind can appoint a person to act on their behalf, giving that person the “powers” to make decisions on his or her behalf. When a person grants another person the responsibility of being their Power of Attorney (POA) that person needs to find out what authorities were granted to them regarding the person’s medical and financial decisions.
Do I Need A Lawyer To Help Me with My Guardianship Fiduciary Duties?
When you become a Guardian, you are taking on many duties on behalf of the ward. For this reason, many people feel that they need to hire an attorney to help them with their state’s guardianship laws. Our law firm can provide you with sound legal advice and counseling on the matter. We can also represent you in court if you’ve been requested to make an appearance.
If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you or would like to ask additional questions regarding Guardianship, please feel free to contact us today!