Elderly Parent Guardianship
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With an aging population in the US, guardianship of elder parents has become a pressing matter. Phelps LaClair serves Chandler, Mesa, Phoenix and Scottsdale. We understand that there are practical, medical, financial, and emotional elements to elderly parent guardianship. We have helped thousands of clients navigate the complexities of estate planning and trust administration. Our experience has shown us that guardianship of elderly parents has several key aspects that need to be decided.
What is Guardianship?
First of all, a guardian is one who has been named as a designated power of attorney for an individual who is no longer able to take care of his or herself. This may be as a result of injury, disease, or dementia. Whatever the cause, the affected person is no longer able to make life decisions and requires a guardian to take care of his/her affairs.
A guardian who has been designated in a trust or living will has all the rights and duties to oversee the welfare of the trustor that the trustor would have himself. The responsibilities are similar to those of a parent. They make decisions for living arrangements, educational and social activities and medical arrangements. The guardian is responsible to make decisions in the best interest of the ward. They see that personal needs are taken care of. And they are required to make an annual report to the court on the welfare of the ward.
A conservatorship is similar to a guardianship. Whereas the guardian is concerned with personal and medical affairs, the conservator is concerned with financial matters. In some cases, the same person will be designated as both guardian and conservator.
With a financial power of attorney, the conservator upholds the standard of a trusted person who handles financial affairs. They do this in the best interest of the disabled person. The conservator has the authority to manage the funds of the estate. He or she can make distributions necessary for the support of the individual. They can invest the assets of the estate, and pay bills and claims that may be judged against the estate.
An estate plan should name a durable power of attorney and a designated power of attorney. Without them, your future may be decided by a court. A trustee will be appointed to oversee your affairs, and you may not have a say in who it is.
Many people desire their family members to be their caretakers. But they need to understand that this is a heavy responsibility and not every spouse or child will be up to the task. It is prudent to have a family conference to discuss the factors involved so that each family member can decide if this is a task they could carry out.
Phelps LaClair is here to help you through decisions when it comes to elderly parent guardianship. As a second generation estate planning law firm, we have written thousands of bullet-proof trusts that protect assets and provide for a smooth transition of inheritance from one generation to the next. Call us for a free first consultation. Aging is not for the faint of heart, and we help families like yours to make the golden years truly golden!