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What circumstances can make guardianship appropriate?

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2024 | Estate Planning

Suffering from a disability or other impairments can take a significant toll on an individual. When these conditions make them incapacitated, they may need help from someone else to make personal and medical decisions on their behalf, which typically happens in guardianship.

In these arrangements, a ward or incapacitated person authorizes a guardian to manage crucial parts of their life, such as their living arrangements, finances and other necessities. It can be beneficial, but there is a risk of the ward losing autonomy or independence. Because of this possibility, guardianship is usually the last resort if no other alternatives exist. Still, it could be the only appropriate option under specific circumstances, such as the following:

  • The individual’s health may worsen, impacting their ability to care for themself.
  • The impairments can affect the individual’s mental and social abilities.
  • The individual is prone to financial exploitation and losses because of their incapacity.
  • Because of their medical conditions, the individual cannot safely relay personal wishes, preferences and decisions.
  • Less intrusive options are not enough to cover the individual’s basic needs and finances.

The state may have specific requirements before deeming an individual incapacitated, affecting their eligibility for adult guardianship. The decision to allow a person to appoint a guardian may depend on the court’s evaluation, considering all relevant factors.

Learning about other legal arrangements

The law values a person’s autonomy despite their physical condition, having strict provisions if their impairments do not prevent them from making personal decisions. Going straight to guardianship to address their needs can discourage their independence, so learning about other estate planning tools with similar features could be critical. In these situations, seeking experienced counsel can help determine the most appropriate legal arrangements and whether guardianship is the only option.