It can be hard to relate to a time when you may be unable to make your own decisions due to incapacity. Be that as it may, a very significant percentage of our nation’s elders do in fact become incapacitated. In many cases guardianship proceedings are initiated under these circumstances.
If interested parties come to the conclusion that you are no longer capable of making sound decisions they could approach the court requesting a guardianship hearing. This could result in the appointment of a guardian to make decisions in your behalf.
There are various different reasons why you would want to avoid a guardianship hearing. Perhaps the most compelling reason is the fact that the guardian who is appointed by the court may not be the person that you would have selected if you made the choice yourself when you were capable of making sound decisions.
Disagreements among family members can also arise when a guardianship hearing is initiated. One family member may feel as though a guardian is necessary, and others may not. Even if all parties agree with regard to the need for a guardian, there could be infighting with regard to which family member should become the guardian.
Intelligent and informed incapacity planning can prevent future guardianship proceedings. You can be proactive about selecting your own potential future decision-makers by executing certain incapacity planning documents.
One of these is a health care proxy. With this type of legal device you empower someone to make medical decisions in your behalf if you were to become incapacitated.
Another legally binding device that you can utilize to avoid guardianship proceedings is a durable power of attorney. This document is used to empower someone of your choosing to make other types of decisions in your behalf, such as financial decisions.
A comprehensive incapacity plan should also include a document called a living will. This type of will has nothing to do with the transfer of financial assets. A living will is used to state your wishes regarding the use of artificial life-support measures if you were to fall into a terminal condition while being unable to communicate.
Addressing the Eventualities of Aging
When you think of estate planning you may immediately focus on the financial element. Indeed, it is important to make sure that your heirs receive their inheritances in the optimal fashion. You can make things far easier for your loved ones if you plan ahead appropriately.
At the same time, many people experience a period of decline before passing away. This may not be a pleasant thing to consider, but it is a fact of life.
Therefore, if you want to be prepared for the future your broader estate plan should certainly include an incapacity planning component that prevents a future guardianship hearing.