Guardianship is a court process. Guardians are only appointed if an individual is deemed to be incapacitated. The determination of incapacity is made using either a physician or a psychologist. If incapacity is only temporary, a temporary or emergency guardian is appointed. To navigate the guardianship process, it’s helpful for appointed individuals to be as informed as possible. As a result, this article reviews some critical details to appreciate the nature of these arrangements.
# 1 – How to Decide a Family member Needs a Guardian
Sometimes, disability or injury make it challenging for a person to make decisions related to health care, finances, or living situations. These situations might include a loved one who ends up in a coma, someone who is mentally challenged, someone who has suffered a stroke, or someone with a brain injury. If a court assesses that a person can no longer make life decisions, the court will hold a hearing addressing that individual’s competency. To decide whether a person is incapacitated, courts will hold a hearing to review all of the available facts.
# 2 – Is Being a Guardianship Right for You?
Acting as a guardian helps you to make sure that your loved one receives appropriate care. Functioning as a guardian, however, comes with substantial challenges. Guardians are wards of the court and must provide accurate and detailed reports to a judge. This position also is of indefinite length and often is a long-term commitment.
# 3 – Certain Strategies Can Make Guardianship Easier
If you decide to function as a guardian, certain pieces of advice can make the process much easier to navigate. Some of the strategies that people find helpful to employ with guardianship include:
- Maintaining separate financial accounts for the subject apart from your own
- Keeping detailed records about the care provided
- Only utilizing the subject’s money and property for their benefit
- Communicating honestly and open with the subject
# 4 – When Guardianship Ends
After the court appoints a guardian, the guardianship will last until one of several terminating events occur. Some of the most common events known to terminate guardianship orders include when the person receiving care dies, when the ward’s condition improves and he or she is no longer deemed incapacitated, after the guardian dies or resigns, or a court determines that is in the best interest of the person receiving care to end the guardianship.
# 5 – The Role of Article 81
Article 81 is designated by the state legislature to provide flexibility in meeting the needs of incapacitated individuals. Not all incapacitated individuals need help meeting their needs. Instead, some only need help paying bills or performing other specific tasks. Article 81’s terms are clear about identifying only those areas in which an adult needs help. Guardians are granted only the power to meet the specific needs of the incapacitated adult.
Contact a Knowledgeable Elder Law Attorney
If you or a loved one needs the assistance of an elder law attorney, you should not hesitate to contact Ettinger Law Firm. During a free case evaluation, we can discuss the details of your case.