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Elder Planning Isn't Just For The Elderly

What is the role of a guardian?

The future often seems so far away that many individuals fail to adequately prepare for it until it is too late. While this procrastination certainly includes retirement and estate planning, it also includes care planning. Those who fail to adequately prepare for their future care may wind up facing financial hardship, a difficulty that can be unfairly thrust upon their loved ones. In other instances, a failure to take action could result in action or inaction that goes against one’s wishes.

Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to prevent this from occurring. One way is to create powers of attorney, but when those are not in place, it may be appropriate to think about adult guardianship. Guardians are appointed in instances where an individual becomes disabled or otherwise incapacitated. This can leave them unable to make financial and non-financial decisions that further his or her interests. This can include medical decisions, ensuring that the ward’s financial matters are handled appropriately, and ensuring that the court is kept apprised of the ward’s situation.

Although modern day guardianships seek to give as much independence as possible to the ward, the fact is that in many cases the guardian holds an immense amount of power and control over the ward’s life. Although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can put a ward and his or her loved ones on edge, especially when the guardian is court-appointed and otherwise unknown to the ward and his or her family.

Those who want to avoid a situation where a guardian is appointed should consider taking the legal steps necessary to create a power of attorney. Doing so will allow an individual named by the creator of the power of attorney to control financial and non-financial aspects of the creator’s life. To learn more about guardianships, powers of attorney and other legal options that may be right for an individual, consulting with an experienced attorney may be necessary.

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