By Senior Advocate Rick Law of Law Elder Law, Estate Planning and Elder Law center in west suburban Aurora, IL
In an ideal world, everyone would plan ahead. Unfortunately, many guardianships are caused by the failure to plan ahea d.
A guardianship is one tool that is used to put someone in a decision-making role under the authority of a court.
Guardianship is a legal relationship whereby a court gives a person (the guardian) the power to make personal decisions for another (the ward). The issue could be dementia, drug use, or a host of other reasons, but whatever the reason, it has caused an individual to lack the ability to make important decision for themselves
Typically, a family member or friend initiates the proceedings by filing a petition in the circuit court in the county where the individual lives. A medical examination by a licensed physician is needed to establish the individual’s condition.
The court then determines whether the individual is unable to meet the essential requirements for his or her health and safety. If so, the court appoints a guardian to make personal decisions for the individual. Unless limited by the court, the guardian has the same rights, powers and duties over his ward as parents have over their minor children. The guardian is required to report to the court annually.
Amazingly, many guardianships could have been avoided by a document as simple as a valid Power of Attorney. It’s a legal document where one person authorizes another person (the agent) to act on his or her behalf, either for health care decisions or for financial decisions.
When someone does not have power of attorney, or if the powers of attorney are not drafted properly and something happens that results in the inability to make decisions, a loved one may later face costly court proceedings and court-supervised guardianship.
What’s more, a court proceeding is not only expensive, but the person appointed as the guardian may not be the person whom the loved one would have chosen.
Too many families needlessly lose everything they have. Don’t let that be you. If you need help paying the overwhelming cost of long term care, give our office a call at 800-310-3100 or 630-585-5200. Your first consultation is absolutely free. We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family.
Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.
Rick was named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney for the past 3 years in a row by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future. Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care.