A guardianship is a legal tool that the courts use to protect people who have become incapacitated (for example, those in a coma) or those who have mental or physical disabilities that render them unable to take care of themselves. A guardianship allows one person (or an entity) to make decisions for another person (the ward).
Although they are for the benefit of the ward, guardianships are a rather extreme form of intervention in another person’s life. This is because they give the guardian control over all of the ward’s personal and financial decisions—often permanently. Guardianships can also be difficult to revoke once they are in place.
But there are alternatives to complete formal guardianships that are overseen by the court.
Here are 3 possible alternatives:
A Living Trust.
A Living Trust is a legal entity that comes into existence during your lifetime. A Living Trust is capable of owning financial assets, real estate, and/or other property. It can be used to avoid the complications of court oversight and probate that a formal guardianship imposes.
A Health Care Power of Attorney.
While this one is more limited than a Living Trust, a Health Care/Medical Power of Attorney and a Mental Health Care Power of Attorney are in Arizona where we practice, (also called “Advance Directives” or “Medical Power of Attorney” in some states) allows a person to make medical decisions for another. This document includes the types of provisions you usually find in a “Living Will,” which is a document that you use to indicate what your wishes are with regard to feeding tubes and/or artificial life support, should you become incapacitated.
A Durable Power of Attorney.
Also more limited when compared to a Living Trust, this alternative to a full guardianship is still very powerful. A Durable Power of Attorney allows someone to control the finances and make all financial decisions necessary for the incapacitated or otherwise incapable person.
Guardianships have their place. But there are also less intrusive ways to assist a loved one with their personal or financial decisions.
Want to Learn More?
We can help. We are experienced trusts and estates attorneys in Arizona. We offer free consultations, and we serve all of Arizona. Our offices are located in beautiful Sedona and we serve Verde Valley as well. We can help you provide and plan for your loved ones. Call us at 928-282-1483 or contact us here.