If you are growing older and realize that you don’t want to find yourself in a guardianship with someone you don’t trust in control of your life, then it is time to put together a plan to protect yourself. Guardianships are powerful tools that families may use to take control of an elderly person’s personal life and financial affairs, but they take away much of that person’s authority.
Guardianships should only be used when an elderly person is no longer able to communicate their wishes, but they can be misused. For this reason, you should plan in advance to make a guardianship completely unnecessary.
What can you do to minimize the need for a guardianship?
To minimize the need for a guardianship, you may want to put together your power of attorney and health care proxy documents. Deciding who you want to have as your financial power of attorney, for example, gives you control over who will handle your finances in the future. You may assign a friend or relative to the role, or you might opt for another professional.
You can also set up a health care proxy to detail out your medical care wishes and to assign someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you can no longer do so yourself.
What happens if you don’t assign your own power of attorney agents or health care proxy?
If you don’t take the time to plan for incapacity now, you could find that you have limited options in the future. If you reach a point of incapacity and don’t have this paperwork in place, the court system will determine if you need a guardian on its own. If so, then the court will decide who to put in charge of your personal and financial needs.
It’s possible for your family to petition for guardianship, too, but if you have the right documents in place, you can prevent family members from taking on roles that you don’t trust them in. This is something to discuss as you work on your estate plan, so you know that you’re protected if you fall ill or are incapacitated.