Should Guardianship Be Included in Your Estate Plan?

The whole reason to create a Will and an estate plan is to dictate what happens to your estate after you pass away. However, you should also consider putting plans into place that take care of you before you pass away if you are no longer able to care for yourself or make appropriate decisions for yourself.

Guardianship is Decided by the Court

If you become incapacitated for some reason due to a long-term condition like dementia or alzheimer’s, or if you are suddently rendered incapacitated because of a car wreck or other tragedy, you will need someone to step in and make medical and financial decisions for you because you are not able to make them for yourself.  In most situations, those decisions are made by your agent under a power of attorney.  However, if you do not have a power of attorney, or if a dispute arises among your family members over the actions of the person holding the power of attorney, then the court may be required to step in and appoint a guardian.  In the event that happens, you will probably want to have the opportunity to designate who you would want to serve as your guardian.  Likewise, you may want to designate one or more persons that you do not want to serve as your guardian.  This can be accomplished by executing a Designation of Guardian in the Event of Future Need document.

Courts will often try to judge potential guardians fairly, but they do not know everything that you know about them.  By having designated a potential guardian and/or having excluded a person as a potential guardian, the Court will be guided in making a decision as to who is the most appropriate person to make decisions for you.  This is a great way to avoid fights in a guardianship case.

If you are drawing up and estate plan or fighting for guardianship of a loved one, contact us today to see what Ford + Bergner LLP can do to help you.