There comes a time in our lives when we need to consider our future. What will happen to my family when I’m gone? Will they be taken care of? Another concern that troubles some people is wondering how they will be taken care of should they become incapacitated or unable to make important decisions on their own. In previous articles, we touched upon durable power of attorney and revocable living trusts, two options that can provide peace of mind, but these are not the only options. It is also possible to establish guardianship in order to protect a vulnerable or incapacitated individual.

What is Guardianship?

Guardianship is the management of an individual’s affairs due to being incapacitated or vulnerable. The person or agency appointed to assume responsibility for the ward or incapacitated individual is known as the guardian. Guardianship can be appointed when the court determines that a person or his/her estate is at risk due to physical incapacity, mental deterioration or illness, or developmental disability. Guardianship usually lasts until the death of the guardian or ward, or until the ward can establish that he or she has the capacity to make his or her own decisions.

Guardian Responsibilities

Guardians have control over most estate assets and decisions unless otherwise specified by the court. These responsibilities include determining the type of care the ward will receive, how finances are managed and funds are spent, and sometimes where the ward will live. Major decisions such as the sale and acquisition of real estate, the administration of drugs, and intensive medical care typically need to have court oversight or approval.

There are some very specific and important differences between legal guardianship and power of attorney. Stay tuned for our next blog to learn more about each and which is the right option for your family and loved ones. In the meantime, if you have any questions feel free to contact Lyons | Sullivan. We are always happy to help.