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Understanding Guardianship

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There are mechanisms that allow family members to care for the needs of a senior loved one. Many see Powers of Attorney as the easy method and guardianship as the more complicated approach. What is guardianship? When is applying for guardianship of your senior loved one a good idea? Is it more complicated then it is worth? All of these are valid questions and deserve some thoughtful answers. It is important to know your and understand yours and your loved one's state laws around guardianship, what is required and what is the most effective path for both you and your loved one.

Powers of Attorney vs. Guardianship

For either Durable Powers of Attorney and Medical Powers of Attorney, a person may designate a trustworthy individual as their agent to handle either financial matters or personal and medical issues. In both cases, the principal, who is the loved one, chooses who the agent should be, when he or she can act on their behalf. If the loved one is considered incompetent, or mentally incapacitated, these Powers of Attorneys cannot be done. If the capacity of the loved one is compromised, and there are no Powers of Attorney, guardianship becomes a necessary option.

What to do first?

The decision for guardianship should be made prior to the application process. It is possible to be Guardian of both the Person and Estate. The process is designed to be carefully done, so that no individual is placed under guardianship without good and valid reasons. Due to the concern over removing the rights of an individual, our courts are required to approve and then supervise the guardianship process.

Do I need an attorney?

Establishing Guardianship over your loved one requires an attorney that understands elder care law. Once the application is filed, the court will appoint an attorney ad litem, for the proposed Ward. A court investigator may also be appointed to verify the status and condition of the proposed Ward and the applicant. At the hearing, the court approves the application for guardianship, and awards letters of guardianship to the applicant. At this point, the appointed guardian is authorized to make decisions for the Ward, and supervise all areas of the Ward's living arrangements and medical care.

Once you have made the decision to pursue guardianship, having an attorney to guide and assist you through this process is of great value and benefit to you. There will be continuing supervision of your loved one and estate by the court. The guardian will continue to be involved with the court for either purchase or sale of items in the Ward's estate.

A financial accounting is also required annually from guardians of the estate; similarly a report on the well-being of the ward is also required. Through this entire process, you will want to make sure that you are taking every opportunity to protect and care for your loved one.

Virginia L. Lootens, Attorney at Law - Virginia Lootens is an Elder law attorney who focuses on the legal needs of the elderly. Her practice is specifically designed to serve the needs, concerns and challenges faced by
the elderly and their families.

Call Virginia Lootens today at 713.622,6606 to find out more about how she can help you, your family and your loved one. Click here to provide your name and address and receive a free information packet from the office of Virginia L. Lootens.

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