For minors - For developmental disability - For incapacity
A good estate planning attorney will take all steps necessary to help their client avoid guardianship--avoid it for you if you were to become incapacitated someday, or avoid it if your children were to inherit your estate at a young age.
Tools to avoid guardianship include properly executed wills with testamentary trusts, revocable living trusts and trust funding with real estate and other assets, change of primary or contingent beneficiary designations on life insurance and certain types of accounts to fund those trusts, durable powers of attorney, and designations of health care surrogate (see "Estate Planning" page).
If the unforeseen occurs before you or your loved one can make a plan, or if in spite of careful planning, someone neglects, abuses, or tries to take your or a loved one's property through coercion, fraud, or undue influence, then guardianship may be the only option to protect and care for a vulnerable person and manage their property for their benefit.
If you find yourself in a situation where an adult loved one is physically or mentally incapacitated and either has no advance directives or the advance directives are not sufficient because there is abuse, neglect (including self-neglect) or exploitation; you should immediately seek the advice of an experienced guardianship attorney. If there is abuse or neglect, you should also call the elder abuse hotline (1-800-96-ABUSE) to start an investigation and get your loved one the support services they need. Our office will explain your guardianship options including emergency guardianship to put a responsible person in charge of the loved one's affairs under the court's oversight.
There are many types of guardianship including the following: (1) minor guardianship of property for when a minor receives proceeds from life insurance, a personal injury settlement, or an inheritance in their name and not in trust, (2) minor guardianship of person if parents have died, (3) guardian advocacy for an adult with developmental disabilities, or (4) guardianship for an incapacitated adult.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need the authority to care for a vulnerable person or their property, then please contact our office for a free phone consultation to discuss the details of the guardianship process.