Avoiding guardianship is what most people hope to achieve in their lifetimes. A guardianship is someone who has been court appointed to care for the financial and health care interests of another person. Many people find themselves needing to file for guardianship to help care for an aging parent. Why does this happen and how can you avoid it? Read on to find out.
The key mistake that most people make is not executing any estate planning documents while they have full mental capacity. Once you begin displaying signs of dementia or diminished capacity, it is too late to get legal documents in place. Once an individual reaches this point, only the court will be able to give someone authority to act on their behalf. So, it is vital that you encourage your loved ones to have the proper documents in place before any health care issues come up.
Financial Powers of Attorney
A financial power of attorney allows the individual creating it to name a trusted agent, or agents, to help manage their finances if they become unable to do so themselves. Many times, spouses neglect to do this, assuming they will automatically be able to get access. This is not always the case and it’s best practice to have a financial power of attorney that includes your spouse as your first agent. With a financial power of attorney your trusted agent will be able to do things like paying your bills, talk with financial institutions on your behalf and manage your bank accounts.
Health Care Powers of Attorney
Health care powers of attorney allow the person creating the documents to name an agent they trust to make health care decisions for them if they become incapacitated. You can leave limitations on such things as where or not you want to be kept on life support if you would like to donate your organs, and if you prefer to be buried or cremated. These documents also allow your doctors to share otherwise private information about your health with your agent. This will allow them to make informed decisions about your health.
Revocable Living Trust
A Revocable Living Trust is another helpful estate planning document than can assist you in avoiding guardianship proceedings. A trust creates a separate legal entity that you retain control of while maintaining mental capacity. In the event of incapacity, you name a successor Trustee to care for and manage the assets for your benefit.
Key to Avoiding Guardianship
The key to avoiding guardianship is planning ahead. No one likes to think about potentially serious health issues popping up. But it is better to set things up now, according to your preferences, than allow the court to be the deciding factor. If you are ready to start planning with a qualified estate planner to get the process in motion.
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