What is guardianship and do I need it? Guardianship is the court process whereby an individual (usually a family member) is appointed by the court to make health care and/or financial decisions form someone who the court has deemed incompetent and not able to make those decisions him or herself. It is what the court calls, “the means of last resort” because the court prefers alternatives over guardianship because it is so restrictive. Such alternatives are powers of attorney, joint account ownership, etc.
Power of Attorney
Did you create your own documents?
Why pay a lawyer when I can get my estate documents online for free (or at least at a lesser cost than a lawyer)? Every estate planning attorney has fielded that question at some point or another. My response is usually: “I love online documents…because it usually means I’ll have more work that makes more money in the future.” After I say that, I typically get a grin across the client’s face and then they ask “why”?
That is a valid question. One that is not pondered enough and often results in a family member being thrown into a position of great responsibility without any direction or idea how they are to act or what they are to do. In fact, most people sign power of attorney documents naming someone, but then never tell them or have a conversation with that person about what will be expected of them.
A proper estate plan should provide for the following: (1) the ability to control your property while you are alive and able, (2) planning for you and your loved ones should you become disabled, and (3) after you die, making sure your assets go to the people you love without unnecessary cost or delay. Moreover, for an estate plan to be effective there needs to be proper asset ownership and control of the process.