Aging can take a toll on us. Not just on our physical abilities but also on our mental capabilities. This can render day-to-day living extremely difficult, making dealing with healthcare and financial issues impossible. When an individual is unable to make these decisions for him or herself, it may be time to consider an adult guardianship.

A guardianship is different from a power of attorney, which is important for New Yorkers to realize. A power of attorney appoints an individual to make financial and healthcare decisions in the event that he or she becomes incapacitated, but the appointed individual can be changed at any time by the grantor without having to take the matter to court. A guardianship, on the other hand, occurs when the court appoints an individual to serve as the guardian of another. Oftentimes, guardianship only terminates when the protected individual dies or the court deems the guardianship no longer necessary.

Although a guardianship can be extremely beneficial for those who are unable to take care of these matters independently, the decision to seek out a guardianship should not be made lightly. After all, there can be a severe emotional strain on those who decide to pursue it. Guardians are expected to follow the law and put the protected individual’s best interests first, which may be difficult to discern at times. Also, watching the slow decline of a loved one can add to the stress of serving as one’s guardian.

This is not to say that guardianship should not be considered, because it absolutely should be considered by those who are concerned about a loved one who is no longer able to properly care for him or herself. However, it may be imperative for these individuals to discuss the matter with an experienced family law attorney who can advise them as to what to expect and how best to navigate this legal arena.