Some states use the term “guardian” for those responsible for a person’s well-being and the term “conservator” for those responsible for a person’s finances. For simplicity, we’ll use the term “guardian” to encompass both types of decision-makers.
So what does it mean to be a guardian for an incapacitated adult?
A guardian is a person appointed by a court to be responsible for someone who is unable to care for and make decisions for their own well-being.
A guardianship can be necessary if a person has not previously appointed a decision-maker with a power or attorney, and is currently unable to appoint a power of attorney because of a cognitive limitation.
In a guardianship proceeding, a court must find that a person lacks the ability to make decisions, and is at risk of harm. A judge will then appoint a guardian to make those decisions on the person’s behalf and be accountable to the court.
The process is not easy. A court must decide whether or not to take away a person’s autonomy, or to what degree to limit a person’s right to make decisions. Guardianship proceedings can be very emotional because the court must be presented with testimony about a loved one’s limitations.
A person seeking to be named as guardian may feel like they are embarrassing their loved one with stories about how they get lost, can no longer drive, or can’t remember their grandchildren’s names. However, guardianship can be the best way to care for and protect a loved one.
Because of the tremendous responsibility a court gives to a guardian, a court will expect and require a great deal of accountability. Every decision must be documented. Many decisions require separate court approval. A good team of advisors will help a guardian avoid the many pitfalls of guardianship.
Advocord is designed to help guardians manage the responsibility of guardianship by easily and securely maintaining all records related to the person under their care.
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