When a person is no longer able to take care of their personal health, day-to-day affairs, personal finances, or any other aspects of their life, it’s essential for their loved ones to help them set up a guardianship, conservatorship, or both.
Guardianships are the best way to provide aid to a person by helping them with their day-to-day affairs like paying bills, finding housing and education, and many other tasks. Conservators are a secure way to manage a protected person’s finances and ensure they are not mismanaged by those around them.
While guardianships and conservatorships are generally the best way to provide aid to a protected person, there are a few alternatives to establishing them.
Durable Power of Attorney
Durable power of attorney allows a competent person to designate another person to act as their “attorney in fact,” who is able to handle matters of their estate (banking, securities, and real estate transactions, etc.) should they become incapacitated. The downside to power of attorney is that it can generally be revoked.
Keep in mind that durable power of attorney can become dangerous, which is why it’s not as safe as a guardianship or conservatorship. When establishing durable power of attorney, it’s essential to completely trust the person you appoint because you are essentially transferring life-changing decision-making capabilities to a single person.
Establishing a Living Trust
Living trusts allow trustee to manage a person’s assets during their lifetime if they become incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so. The downside to trusts is that, unlike conservatorships, they are not supervised by the courts.
In general, it’s much more secure to have a conservatorship over a living trust because if another fiduciary comes in, they have the power to change things within the trust. With a conservatorship, it’s more secure with the court-appointed person.
Healthcare Directives (Formerly Living Wills)
Healthcare directives are legal documents that instruct providers, family members and others what to do in the event that the person becomes unable to make their own healthcare decisions. These are limited in scope when compared to guardianships and do not encompass many other areas of the protected person’s life.
If a protected person’s benefits are being distributed by the Social Security Administration, Veterans Administration, Railroad Retirement, or the Office of Personal Management, you can set up a Representative Payee who is designated by the federal government to set up budgets, assist with paying bills, balance books, etc. While this works for benefits delivered by federal agencies, it is very limited in scope when compared to the powers conservators have in managing a person’s finances.
Need Help With a Guardianship or Conservatorship?
Guardianships and conservatorships are best suited for caring for a protected person because they are overseen by the court, have many powers and are protected by surety bonds. To learn more about acquiring a surety bond for your guardianship or conservatorship, contact The Patrick J. Thomas Agency today.
Disclaimer: this is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you need legal counsel, please contact an attorney directly.