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Elder Planning Isn't Just For The Elderly

A look at the basics of guardianship

There are many reasons why someone may find themselves in a situation in which they can no longer make decisions for themselves. Whether that's physical or mental challenges such as multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrigs disease, Alzheimers, senility, dementia and the like, there are a variety of reasons why it may be necessary to designate a guardian for someone. These can be personal or financial, too, such as when a person becomes a victim of elder abuse or perhaps financial affairs necessitate the protections of guardianship.

However, many New York resident may be unclear as to how guardianships work. Basically, a guardian is chosen to make decisions for a person who can no longer make these decisions by his or herself. The guardian can be chosen either by the courts or they may also be named in a legal document -- i.e., a will. What kinds of decisions can be made by guardians?

Guardians can make a variety of decisions on behalf of the person, such as arranging for education, providing consent for medical care or treatment, managing bank accounts and finances, and buying necessities such as food, cars, clothes, household items, etc.

Some may be wondering, too, how a guardian is selected. In most cases, a legal guardian is selected that has close ties to the ward. This can include someone specifically named by the ward in a legal document, a parent, spouse -- and, in some cases, a state employee.

As becomes apparent, guardianship involves many issues, and this post barely scratches the surface. There are attorneys who specialize in guardianship that can help anyone faced with such issues navigate this often complex legal landscape.

Source: FindLaw, "Guardianship Basics," May 9, 2017

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