Guardianship Mistakes: Failing to Plan

The guardianship process is complex, expensive, and often humiliating to the older adult. Most times, guardianship is also avoidable.

 

Plan ahead to avoid guardianship.

 

Whenever possible, guardianship should be avoided. The most effective way to avoid guardianship is to plan ahead. Sine there is no guarantee that we will be of sound mind up until the day we die, it is important to create and communicate a plan for incapacity. Planning for incapacity involves creating and executing an advance directive and power of attorney.

 

Complete an advance directive.

 

An advance directive is a document used to communicate your choices about medical care. It allows you to name someone to make medical choices on your behalf if you are ever unable or unwilling to make your own decisions. It is called an advance directive because it is signed in advance (or before an illness or incapacity). Completing and signing an advance directive can often eliminate the need for a guardianship as a healthcare agent who has already been appointed in the event of incapacity and the healthcare wishes have been communicated ahead of time. The healthcare agent can begin acting in their role, often leaving no need for a guardian. The Georgia Advance Directive is a free document that can be completed without an attorney; it can be downloaded here:

 

Execute a power of attorney.

 

For financial issues, a power of attorney allows you to name someone to act on your behalf for all financial and property matters. Should you lose the ability to handle your own affairs, this person could pay your bills, buy/sell property, file your taxes, apply for public benefits, manage your assets, etc.  If you do not put some plans in place to allow someone else to access your money should you lose capacity, a conservatorship may be the only option. We have worked with many families that were forced to turn to conservatorship because they did not spend the time or money to put a plan in place. You can learn more about the power of attorney by clicking here 

 

Plan before there is a need.

 

Many of us put off planning for our future needs. “I’m not at that point yet,” or, “I’ll get to that one day.”  It always seems too early to plan until it’s too late. Once the ability to make sound decisions is gone (because of coma, stroke or advanced dementia), it’s too late to plan. And if you think it’s expensive to put a plan in place, that cost is minimal compared to the cost of getting affairs in order during a crisis.

 

If you need personalized legal advice about guardianships in Georgia, please call Hurley Elder Care Law at (404) 843-0121 or contact us through our website