Many families assume that it will be easy to appoint someone as guardian for their parents when the time comes. They believe that it is easy to establish a plan that will protect their loved ones financially, emotionally and physically, but this often isn't the case. If you and your parents wait too long before establishing someone as a guardian, you might miss the window of opportunity you have. Or you may discover after being appointed that the type of guardianship you sought doesn't cover the decisions that need to be made. To make sure your parents are properly protected, learn about the many ways you can be a guardian and what the limitations of each arrangement are.
Guardianship Of The Person Covers Quality Of Life Decisions
This is what most people think of when they are worried that parents or loved ones can't make rational, safe decisions for themselves. If you are appointed to care for the ward physically, you will have the power to make all decisions related to care, comfort, support, education, day-to-day maintenance and any services needed for the ward, including where they will live and what medical treatments will be administered. If your loved one shows signs of developing dementia, Alzheimer's, or has been sufficiently incapacitated in an accident, this gives you the broad powers you'll need to ensure they are properly cared for.
Guardianship Of The Estate Focuses On Money Matters
This appoints a guardian to watch over and administer the estate or finances of an individual. The guardian can make financial decisions for both the short and long term in regard to any of the ward's finances, and real and personal property. If a minor inherits a sizable estate, a guardian is often appointed until the minor reaches the age of majority or an age set forth by the person who left them the inheritance.
Limited Guardianship Has To Be Defined In Court
If you are a guardian with limited powers, you can make many decisions for the person who is your ward, but not all of them. In many instances, you may be able to make decisions about day-to-day issues, but not financial ones. Sometimes another individual is appointed to handle any issues that aren't outlined in official documents. In any of these situations, the powers have to be specifically outlined by the court. If it is not outlined in the court documents, it is not a decision you can make. The ward retains his or her right to make those choices not outlined in court.
A testamentary guardianship is established in a will by the parents of an individual who is disabled or unable to care for himself at the time of the parents' death. Although outlined in a will, this isn't binding until the court formally appoints a testamentary guardian to fulfill the position. Unless there is a valid legal reason, most courts respect the wishes of the parent or parents in this situation.
This doesn't often come up in regard to parents unless they are suddenly and unexpectedly disabled and there is hope of recovery. It is used for emergency circumstances and can only last for 60 days. It is meant to provide for a ward's protection until a more permanent solution can be found or until the individual recovers and is able to care for herself once again.
Because there are so many different types of guardianship outlined by state laws, it is best to consult with an attorney before letting your loved ones choose a guardian for themselves or their estate.