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Estate Planning: How Do Guardianships Work?


People do not like to think about things like who will take care of them if they can no longer take care of themselves. Unfortunately, choices like that must be made every day whether the people making those decisions like it or not. One decision that many of us could face at some point in our lives involves deciding whether to set up a guardianship for a loved one who is unable to take care of themselves temporarily or permanently.

What Is a Guardianship?

In most cases, a guardianship enables a guardian to handle another person’s (referred to as a ward) personal decisions. In some states, a guardianship can be set up for adults or children. In other states, guardianships can only be set up for minors. In states where there isn’t an option to set up a guardianship for an adult, there is usually an option to set up a conservatorship for an adult, which will essentially provide the same benefits.

Conservatorships vs. Guardianships: What’s the Difference?

Conservatorships and guardianships are sometimes confused for one another. However, in states where guardianships can apply to adults as well as children, conservatorships and guardianships are very different. In those circumstances, guardianships enable a guardian to control a ward’s day-to-day life, while conservatorships only allow conservators to handle a person’s financial affairs.

Is Ending a Guardianship as Difficult as Ending a Conservatorship?

Conservatorships grabbed headlines in the last year or so after two celebrities, Britney Spears and Amanda Bynes, managed to have their conservatorships ended. However, in each case, ending the conservatorship was extremely difficult. Would it have been as difficult for them to end guardianships? Or would it have been easier? Or harder?

In most cases, a ward attempting to end a guardianship will face the same obstacles a person trying to end a conservatorship would face. If the ward is an adult, they will have to prove that they are capable of competently managing their life and financial affairs. This often involves the cooperation of their guardian and confirmation from one or more physicians that the ward is competent and capable of handling their own affairs.

Speak with an Estate Planning Lawyer Today

Most of us hope to never have to set up a guardianship or conservatorship for someone we love—or have someone set one up for us. Unfortunately, life forces us to make tough choices at times. That is why it is critical to have an estate plan, will, or trust in place.

It is never easy to make end of life plans and decisions about what should happen if you can no longer take care of yourself. However, facing these types of choices is important. You do not want those decisions to have to be made by others on your behalf, or for the burden of handling your estate to fall on your loved ones’ shoulders.

At Rech Law, P.C., we understand wills, trusts, and estate planning issues are sensitive and emotionally-charged topics. However, we also have seen the chaos, pain, and suffering that can result in situations where a person does not have an estate plan, will, or trust in place when the time comes. This process does not have to be as intimidating and burdensome as you imagine. Our experienced estate planning attorneys can make it simple and quick. We have successfully helped many clients with their estate plans, trusts, and wills, and we can do the same for you.

For more information about Rech Law, P.C., visit our client testimonials page. To schedule a confidential, no-obligation consultation with us, give us a call at (704) 659-0007 or reach out to us online.

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