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Dorothea J. Kingsbury Estate Planning & Probate Attorney

What is guardianship?

There is no way around it. We all age. And as we age, our needs might change. For some, it is difficult to meet these needs on our own due to the ailments and conditions that can come with old age. When a loved one is deemed incapacitated and unable to make healthcare and financial decisions on their own, this is when it is important to start considering guardianship.

What is a guardianship? It is a legal tool that allows a named person, usually a family member, to make decisions on your behalf. A court must approve a guardianship, and they are usually issued when there is a circumstance that includes either the incapacitation or disability of a loved one.

Guardianship is usually established in situations where a person is deemed incapacitated or disabled. Unless there is a durable power of attorney and a healthcare directive already in your estate plan, designating a person to make your financial and healthcare decisions, the court will need to establish guardianship for you.

When a person is appointed as a guardian, he or she is afforded the right to make certain decisions and take specific actions. This typically includes ensuring the care and maintenance of the individual, making financial decision for them, making medical decisions; ensuring educational and medical services are adequate and well-maintained and submitting updates to the court regarding the status and condition of the person you are a guardian of.

Whether you have included and prepared for such a situation or not in your estate plan, guardianship is a reality that many individuals have to face. Because of that, it is not only important to understand this situation but also how best to prepare and proceed with it.

Source:, "Guardianship of Incapacitated or Disabled Persons," accessed Sept. 24, 2017

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