Guardianship is a legal system through which an adult can provide for the needs of someone incapable of handling their own affairs. Those with developmental disorders, injury-related disabilities and cognitive decline due to aging may eventually require a guardianship. They need someone else to handle their finances, provide for their basic needs and make medical decisions for them.
Other people can seek the authority to handle such matters by requesting a guardianship in court. By the time someone requires a guardianship, they are no longer in a position to influence how the courts handle that process, as they lack the testamentary capacity to handle their own affairs. An abusive family member or a total stranger could end up in the role of guardian.
Naturally, that is a situation you would likely prefer to avoid. Estate planning allows you to control what happens to your property after you die and can also help you create protective systems in case you require support later in life.
How your plan can protect you
Powers of attorney are specialized legal documents that allow one individual to name someone else to act on their behalf. In the event of incapacitation, the agent or attorney-in-fact named in someone’s power of attorney documents can pay their bills, make treatment decisions with doctors and provide daily support.
The tasks that an agent can perform typically overlap with the responsibilities that a guardian would assume. By creating durable power of attorney documents that retain authority even after you become permanently incapacitated, you can name your own guardian. In fact, you could name two people by separating financial authority from medical authority to better protect yourself.
Comprehensive estate plans protect you from an unpredictable world
No one knows when they might die or when some kind of emergency might drastically alter the course of their life. Your estate plan gives you more control over the future, regardless of what life throws at you. It can also help you better protect and provide for the people you love, who might be vulnerable in a situation where something happens to you.
Deciding to create or possibly update and expand an estate plan can help you feel comfortable navigating life’s challenges.