Guardianship is the process by which the courts grant a person control over another. Each state has its own laws, rules, and regulations covering how guardianship is attained through the court. No matter what state you are in, getting guardianship is a time-consuming and expensive process. A recent article from the News-Enterprise, "Planning can avoid guardianship," looks at what you can do to avoid guardianship.
The primary way to avoid needing guardianship is by having a valid power of attorney in place. A power of attorney is a planning tool in which you, the person who makes it, grants someone, generally referred to as the agent, the power to decide for you. They can be used for medical and financial decisions depending on the type you have. Power of Attorney is an important planning tool for everyone to have in place to avoid the need for court. There are many types of power of attorney, and speaking to an experienced estate planner can help you determine what type of power of attorney is right for you.
Another option for avoiding guardianship is a revocable trust. While we usually think of revocable trusts as a probate avoidance tool, when funded, a trust can give your trustee control of the assets in it. Again, this can help to avoid guardianship, particularly over significant assets like real estate.
Guardianship proceedings are costly and time-consuming and should be your family's last resort. Protect your loved one from this by proactively getting your planning in place.
Reference: Griffin, C. (2021). The News-Enterprise. Planning can avoid guardianship. https://www.thenewsenterprise.com/features/seniors/planning-can-avoid-guardianship/article_e1a994d4-57aa-5bc2-831b-1d3d195f64d1.html
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