Adult Guardianship

After an accident or health catastrophe, an individual may be left with the care of a loved one and not quite know what to do with oneself regarding medical decisions, financial decisions, and a host of other life-impacting decisions for the person. Other individuals may realize that their parents are getting older and have to come to terms with an unfortunate truth: older adults frequently have periods toward the end of law when they are unable to make decisions for themselves. While it is most common among older people, younger individuals involved in accidents may also have this problem. If the individual has an advance health care directive or durable power of attorney, there will be a person designated to care for the individual. The same cannot be true for individuals who lack these important documents.

If a person who has become unable to care for him or herself lacks the documents that place control of their life in the hands of another, a conservatorship, or adult guardianship, may come in handy. This situation is not easy to arrange and typically involves a lawyer. Once the documents are drawn up, a judge generally has to approve the plan. Despite all of the inconveniences, an adult guardianship can solve the extremely large problem of who is in charge of making the major decisions that involve an injured individual when he or she is unable to do so on his or her own.

Conservatorship and adult guardianship are, most of the time, essentially the same thing. Different states use different terms but they signify the same thing. These two terms indicate that an adult is unable to make decisions for him or herself and so a judge has appointed someone, called the “conservator,” to make the important decisions about life for him or her. Any of the decisions made by the conservator have the legal backing of the court. The court can appoint a conservator to oversee finances, medical care, personal care, or a combination of all.

In order for it to be appropriate for a court to appoint a guardian, there must be two things in place. The first one is that the person must be physically or mentally incapable of making important decisions for him or herself. The second condition is that the individual in question does not have the legal documents in place to cover such a situation.

Individuals who are not elderly who have become disabled to the point of requiring a conservator may be eligible for disability, if it can be shown that the individual cannot hold a job due to some injury or impairment. This can become a major source of income for the individual and lessen the financial burdens on the family.

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