For many people, a guardianship is an essential part of ensuring their loved ones are taken care of. However, there are many aspects to guardianships that can make them inconvenient or cumbersome, and there are people who would prefer an alternative. But is there really an alternative to getting a guardianship? And if so, what do you need to do to benefit from it?

Explaining Guardianships

    A guardianship is a type of legal arrangement where someone is appointed by the court to manage the affairs of another person, known as the ward. Typically, the ward is someone who is unable to handle their own legal, financial, or medical affairs, for one reason or another. Commonly, guardianships are put into place to protect children, people with developmental disabilities, elderly people with dementia, and others suffering from conditions that hinder their ability to care for themselves.

What Are the Potential Problems With Guardianships?

    While guardianships are useful for helping people who are unable to care for themselves, they do have certain issues that make them inconvenient. For one thing, a guardian must regularly report back to the court about the welfare of their ward, which includes a full accounting of all expenses made on their behalf. In addition, the guardian can be held legally liable if there are any allegations of wrongdoing, negligence, or abuse, meaning that taking on the responsibility of a guardianship can come with significant risks.

Are There Alternatives to Guardianships?

    Technically speaking, if you need to seek out a guardianship for a loved one, it is already too late to seek out other alternatives. However, if your loved one is a mentally competent adult, you can circumvent the entire process of seeking out a guardian by ensuring you have advance directives prepared. These advance directives, such as a power of attorney and health care proxy, grant someone else the authority to make decisions on their behalf without needing to go through the courts. This will, in turn, save an enormous amount of time and stress, since there will already be an arrangement in place for the possibility of your loved one becoming unable to care for themselves.

How Can I Create Advance Directives?

    The process of creating advance directives can be legally complicated, and if you are not careful, you may wind up causing more problems than you solve. That is why you should always speak to a lawyer with experience handling advance directives and other estate planning issues. They can help you craft a power of attorney, health care proxy, and other documents that will ensure your interests are protected, while also avoiding the need to seek out a guardianship later on.

    The guardianship law attorneys at David J. Lorber & Associates, PLLC will work with you to determine whether a guardianship might be necessary for your loved one, and help you to get a guardianship that will suit your needs. For comprehensive guardianship and elder law services in New York, call David J. Lorber & Associates, PLLC at (631) 750-0900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our Setauket office. 

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