One very important tool in trusts and estates practice is that of guardianships.
What is a Guardianship?
Guardianships come into play when a person is incapacitated or disabled.
For example, let us say you do not have a will or a living will, or any of the necessary healthcare documents or powers of attorney, and you get hit by a bus in the Main Street District and are left in a coma.
Obviously you cannot make any decisions for yourself, including any medical or financial decisions.
Because you did not have any of the necessary documents in place that would have taken care of this, the court will appoint someone to make these decisions for you.
Guardians are also appointed by the court in cases where a person is mentally or physically disabled and cannot take care of themselves, live independently or earn a living. The court will appoint a guardian to oversee the ward’s care: to make sure the ward is taken care of and receives all necessary medical, financial and educational support.
In this type of guardianship, the desires of the ward are given as much consideration as possible. In recent years, more effort has been made to promote the self-reliance and dignity of the ward and these types of guardianships have evolved to allow the ward to do as much of his or her own caregiving and decision-making as the ward is physically and mentally capable of.
What Does a Guardian Do?
Guardians are not caretakers of an incapacitated or disabled ward. However, they do make all necessary (and important) decisions for them. The guardian has the power to make financial, medical and other decisions for the ward. The guardian decides how the ward’s money is spent and on what.
The guardian is also responsible for reporting to the court about the ward’s condition, including the ward’s mental and physical condition and living situation, and anything else the court needs to know to assess the ward’s condition. The guardian must also account to the court for the ward’s assets (i.e., his or her money and how it is being spent or invested).
If You Do Not Nominate A Guardian For Your Children Or Yourself, The Court Will.
If you become incapacitated and do not have a durable power of attorney, living will or other necessary healthcare documents in place in which you decide who should make the financial and medical decisions for you if you cannot, then the court will.
Similarly, if you have young children and you do not have a Will in which you designate who will be the guardian of your children if you should die, then the court will appoint one.
If you have children with special needs, or family members who are unable to take care of themselves, and you do not create a “Special Needs” or other type of trust for them, and you die, the court will appoint a guardian for them.
Now that you know how important the role of a guardian is, do not leave who the guardian of yourself or that of any of your loved ones will be, to some probate judge to decide. You are the best person to make that decision.
Do Not Wait Another Minute!
Making sure you have all the documents you need to take care of yourself and your family if you should die or become suddenly incapacitated is not something you can afford to put off for another minute. Call us. We offer FREE consultations and we can make the process easy for you. We have offices in Sedona, Arizona. We serve Verde Valley and all of Arizona. E-mail us to set up your free appointment today!