Making supportive decisions for your loved ones
Watching a parent or loved one lose the ability to care for themselves is challenging. Shifting your role to the caretaker is not only emotionally difficult but also legally complex.
We understand that this process is complicated for many reasons and we’ll work with you to find solutions that are right for your family.
What is a Guardianship?
A guardianship is a legal process whereby an individual is appointed by the Court to act for an individual who is unable to care for themselves or manage their affairs.
Guardianship duties include:
- Making financial and medical decisions
- Deciding where the person will live
- Caring for their home, clothing, furniture, vehicles, etc.
- Providing care, comfort, and general support for their well-being
A guardianship and conservatorship are technically two separate roles, but they’re often performed by the same person. Someone who can assist with personal and medical decisions is known as a guardian, and a conservator is someone who helps with finances.
Why A Guardianship?
A guardianship is necessary when there are no financial or health care Powers of Attorney in place and a person lacks the capacity to sign any documents appointing someone to act on their behalf.
The legal team at Goldberg Law Group understands the difficulty of seeing a loved one lose their independence—and the impulse to take care of them.
For example, an incapacitated person may be convinced they’re unable to pay their bills due to insufficient money in the bank and therefore not pay those bills, even though they have the funds to do so.
At Goldberg Law Group, we provide direct, candid consultation services so that you can make an informed choice about how to proceed in caring for your loved one.
When applying for guardianship, the proposed guardian must receive two separate evaluations of the alleged incapacitated person (AIP). These evaluations must be completed by either two medical doctors or a medical doctor and a psychologist.
The doctors meet with the AIP, complete a certification, and report to the court on their medical opinion as to whether the individual has capacity.
Protections for the AIP
After you’ve filed the required paperwork with the Court, including the reports from medical doctors (or a doctor and psychologist), you’ll be given a hearing date and the Court will appoint an attorney for the alleged incapacitated person (AIP).
The CAA meets with the AIP and prepares a report of their findings. Typically, the CAA will meet with or interview friends and family of the AIP as part of this process. The CAA’s responsibilities include determining if the prospective guardian is the appropriate person to act on your loved one’s behalf.
While it may be challenging and even destabilizing to have someone you don’t know question your right to care for your parent or loved one, understand that the process is designed to protect the person you love.
Every person has a right to counsel.
Before one can be appointed guardian, one must complete guardianship training. This is designed to protect the AIP and helps ensure the guardian is fully informed of their rights and responsibilities.
This training covers:
- The annual reports guardians must file
- The guardian’s duties and responsibilities
In general, if it’s determined that the AIP is incapacitated to the point of needing a guardian, the Court will determine the level of need and whether or not the proposed guardian is an appropriate choice.
It’s also possible to appoint co-guardians if two people wish to share the duties and responsibilities of guardianship for the AIP.
Work with a Guardianship Attorney
We take the responsibility of caring for our most vulnerable population very seriously, and we pride ourselves on working with families to find solutions that fit their specific needs.
How do I know when my loved one needs a guardian?
Again, your loved one may still have the capacity to sign a Power of Attorney at that point.
We want to stress that knowing when a guardian is needed will vary immensely according to the individual situation. These examples may help paint a picture, but often the shift is gradual.
What Is the Difference between Powers of Attorney and Guardianship?
Unfortunately, sometimes even individuals with a Power of Attorney may need a guardian. Poorly drafted Powers of Attorney, deceased or incapacitated agents, or a combative loved one (due to dementia or psychiatric issues) may necessitate guardianship.
For most people, a POA is sufficient. It’s important to remember the documents must be executed while one still has capacity.