Guardian Advocacy and Guardianship

What is a Guardian Advocacy?

A guardian advocacy is a summary form of guardianship designed for families with a developmentally disabled child.  In a guardian advocacy, no determination of incapacity is required.  A letter from the child’s doctor outlining the child’s condition and prognosis takes the place of an incapacity determination.  As with other guardianships, guardian advocacies must be filed with the court in the county of residence and annual reports will be required.  In most cases, the child’s parent(s) will be appointed as the guardian advocate. Upon attaining age eighteen (18), a child becomes an adult in the eyes of the law.

Guardianship

A guardianship may become necessary if you or someone you know is no longer capable of making their own financial and/or personal care decisions.

What are the different types of Guardianships?

Guardianship of the Person

In some instances, a person has little or no assets that require the appointment of a guardian but a guardian may still be required to make personal care decisions, such as housing, medical care and personal care. Although financial accountings are avoided, the court will require an annual plan summarizing the past year and outlining the plan of care for the upcoming year.

Plenary Guardianship

A plenary guardianship may be necessary if a person is incapable of making both financial and personal care decisions.  The court-appointed guardian will take over each of these important decision making areas but will be required to solicit the court for permission to spend assets for the benefit of the ward, as well as to account for the ward’s assets and the ward’s care.

One way to avoid a court-ordered guardianship is through proper disability planning. Properly planned and executed financial and healthcare powers of attorney may alleviate the need for a guardianship.  As an added measure of protection, we also recommend a Preneed Guardian Declaration naming your choice of guardian in the event a court-ordered guardianship cannot be avoided.

Limited Guardianships & Guardianships of the Property

Sometimes an individual is capable of making their own personal decisions but incapable of making their own financial decisions.  In this case, a guardian of the property would be appointed to oversee the proper management of the ward’s assets.

A guardian of the property could also be appointed if a minor child is a beneficiary in an estate and inherits money prior to the age of 18.  This would also be true in the event of a lawsuit settlement payable to someone under the age of eighteen (18).

The court will require at a minimum annual accountings to ensure that assets are being properly managed.

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