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GUARDIANSHIPS What You Need to Know

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There may come a time when you must consider whether someone you care for needs help seeing to their personal affairs

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If that time comes, it helps to understand exactly what your options are

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Guardianship Court Proceedings

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A guardianship requires a court proceeding where an individual is appointed as the guardian to make decisions for the ward

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The court may authorize the guardian to control the ward’s property and finances or control over the ward himself

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Depending on the situation, the guardian may be given control over both

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Choosing and Appointing a Guardian

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Courts have very broad discretion over who is appointed

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However, a spouse, adult child, parent or sibling is usually the most likely candidate

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Some courts will take into consideration any preference the ward may have as to who is appointed

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Incapacity Determination

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The first step in the process is for the court to determine whether the would-be ward is incapacitated

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Incapacity means the inability to make proper decisions for one’s self

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The inability may stem from a disability, cognitive impairment, chronic drug or alcohol use or any other medical condition

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Incapacity can also be either temporary or permanent.

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Duties of a Guardian

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The primary duties of a guardian are to manage the welfare and safety of the ward

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This may include both financial and personal needs

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It is the guardian’s responsibility to protect the ward and his or her assets

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Court Supervision

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The guardian is required to file a petition with the court in order to obtain written permission before making certain important decisions

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For example, the decision to withhold life-saving medical treatment requires a court order, as does terminating parental rights

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The guardian is also required to make annual reports to the court as to the status of the ward and the ward’s affairs

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Advantages and Disadvantages

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The guardian remains under court supervision The guardian has authority that is helpful when dealing with others ADVANTAGES:

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DISADVANTAGES: Guardianships can be costly The process is open to the public Loss of power and autonomy can be humiliating

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Alternatives to Guardianship

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A durable power of attorney Joint bank accounts Revocable living trusts Protective orders Durable financial powers of attorney Advance directives for health care

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What Should I Do?

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Regardless of the cause of incapacity, it is imperative that the problem is not allowed to progress to the point that they become a danger to themselves or others

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The best course of action would obviously be to take care of your loved one informally, with the help of family and friends

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But, sometimes more formal management or control is needed

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Discuss your situation and your concerns with an estate planning attorney so you can choose the plan that is best for you and your family

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Learn More About Guardianship in Fayetteville Arkansas

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