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What is guardianship and when is it necessary?

How to help a vulnerable loved one

Watching a loved one struggle with making decisions by themselves can be difficult. You may have concerns that they are vulnerable to exploitation and you are looking into options to protect them.

Luckily the law provides legal recourse in these kinds of situations. You can request a court to grant you the ability to be their guardian and make decisions on their behalf.

But what is a guardianship? How do you know if you need one?

Here is an explanation of guardianship that may help you in choosing the option that is best for your loved one.

What is guardianship?

A guardian is someone appointed by the court to advocate for an individual who is incapacitated or a ward. After appointment a guardian has the authority to manage the individual’s financial and medical affairs.

The rights of a guardian will depend on the type of guardianship granted by the court.

When is guardianship necessary?

A guardian is appointed when a court believes that an incapacitated individual or ward is a threat to his or her own safety. A guardian can also be appointed if an individual is unable to communicate their decisions.

In some cases a financial and medical power of attorney will suffice in lieu of guardianship. These documents give an individual a choice of who will be making their financial and medical decisions.

But in certain situations guardianship may be necessary. This may be the case if an individual is unable to understand and sign legal documents.

Guardianship may result in an individual losing some of their rights for their own protection. For example they may lose the right to drive, enter into contracts or conduct real estate transactions.

What are some alternatives to guardianship?

If you do not believe that guardianship is necessary for your loved one but believe they need assistance in decision-making there are alternatives.

As mentioned above a medical and financial power of attorney are two possible alternatives but not the only.

Additional alternatives to guardianship can include establishing a trust, joint property agreement, representative payeeship or altering living arrangements to assist with day-to-day activities.

Any of these options may be able to protect vulnerable loved ones from exploitation and unsafe situations.

Discussing these options with a well-seasoned attorney may help you to decide which course of action is best for your loved one.

rights of a guardian

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