Earlier this week I posted a quick post on the difference between a conservatorship and guardianship. As part of my meeting with my client, we also discussed whether either of those was needed. Many of the people I meet with immediately jump into the deep end. They’ve read a blog or they know someone else who has a certain legal document. Someone has convinced them that they need complex legal documents. Even though some straightforward planning will work, they are looking for advanced guardianship systems.

What Are The Alternatives?

Even though you have your heart set on a conservatorship or guardianship, there are alternatives that could be put into place. You can get the same outcome, without all the extra legal costs. For example, you can often use a power of attorney or a healthcare directive to achieve your goals.

If you don’t already have any documents in place, you still may be able to use an alternative to conservatorship or guardianship. You can work with an attorney to determine if the person has the legal capacity to sign a document. Many people assume that because someone is ill, or in the hospital, they are unable to legally sign documents. However, there are plenty of people who have the legal capacity to sign documents in those situations. This is where an attorney can work with you to sort out whether a person can sign the documents.

Choosing to go this route, instead of guardianship, you can use a healthcare power of attorney to allow family members to make decisions. If there are financial issues, a power of attorney can be used to allow a family member to handle the medical bills and other financial obligations of someone in the hospital.

Some folks have good reasons to avoid conservatorships as well. Another tactic to avoid it is to use a trust for the person’s assets. If the person is incapacitated, you can also look to use a special needs trust to administer their assets.

The lesson, in this case, is pretty straightforward. Working with an attorney can help you choose the right documents for your loved one. Downloading a form from the internet or copying someone else’s form can be a very dangerous way to plan for a family member.

Next Steps

If you are considering a conservatorship or guardianship (or have no idea which kind you need) and want to discuss which options works best for you and whether you even need all that planning, call my office to set up a meeting – (877) AMAYERS.

Andrew Ayers
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I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.
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