Guardianship and conservatorship are approaches to ensuring that a person who is incapacitated is cared for. When a person is incapacitated, a guardian can be appointed to ensure that individual’s personal and day-to-day needs are met. A conservator can be appointed to manage the incapacitated individual’s property and financial affairs.
The process of securing guardianship & conservatorship can be a challenge for family members when they are left to cope with a relative or friend who has developed a serious illness or been affected by a serious injury. Often, the need for guardianship or conservatorship can be avoided with advanced planning. When no alternative is in place, however, a loved one of an incapacitated person will need to go to court to try to ensure proper care for the incapacitated relative.
The Schomer Law Group understands the laws related to guardianship and conservatorship and can provide assistance in helping to ensure your family can avoid either. If incapacity has already occurred and there are no plans in place to manage assets or make medical decisions, our attorneys can also help you get the necessary legal process taken care of so you can begin overseeing your loved one’s affairs. Give us a call to find out how we can assist you and to get answers to questions including:
- Can guardianship or conservatorship be avoided?
- How does guardianship or conservatorship work?
- How can a Los Angeles guardianship lawyer help you?
Can Guardianship or Conservatorship be Avoided?
Guardianship and conservatorship should be avoided whenever possible. There are different approaches which can be taken to ensure that your family members don’t need to go to court in case you ever become incapacitated. Options can include:
- Creating a living trust, transferring assets into it, and naming a backup trustee who can take over the management of your money and property in case of incapacity.
- Creating a power of attorney to name someone as your agent to make decisions for you and manage your affairs in case of incapacity. You can create both a general power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney so an agent can take care of all of your financial and business issues and also make choices on your medical care.
- Creating an advanced directive or living will, which details what kinds of extraordinary measures (if any) you want taken to keep you alive in various emergency situations.
If you have a plan in place for incapacity, not only can you make sure your loved ones don’t face legal hassle at a difficult time in their lives, but you can also make sure you have named the person you trust most to take action for you. You can retain some control by selecting the agent in advance, instead of having the decision made for you regarding who will handle your affairs.
How Does Guardianship or Conservatorship Work?
If there is no power of attorney in place and no other advanced plans and someone becomes incapacitated, an official legal process must be followed. First, the court must declare the individual incapacitated- which occurs after court paperwork is filed and proof is provided. Next, the court must appoint a conservator and/or guardian.
The person who initiated guardianship or conservatorship proceedings is not always the person appointed by the court to act as conservator or guardian. The court will consider a variety of factors in assessing who is best positioned to act on behalf of and make decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person. The individual chosen may not be someone the incapacitated patient would ever have selected.
A guardian or a conservator, once chosen, will have obligations to act in the best interests of the incapacitated person- just as an agent does when a power of attorney is created. However, in guardianship or conservatorship proceedings, there is usually much more court oversight of what the guardian or conservator is doing. This means personal information can end up becoming court record and it means the ongoing involvement of bureaucrats in your life at a time when you are trying to deal with an incapacitated loved one.
The extra court oversight, coupled with the complexity and cost of guardianship or conservatorship proceedings as well as the uncertainty over who will be placed in charge are all reasons why many people try to find alternatives.
How Can a Los Angeles Guardianship Lawyer Help?
The Schomer Law Group is here to provide representation to those seeking alternatives to guardianship or conservatorship, as well as to represent those who are going through the guardianship or conservatorship process. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can assist you in where guardianship arises. You can reach us online or by calling (310) 337-7696.