How to Avoid Forced Guardianship

May 31, 2014

Adult guardianship, also known as conservatorship, was created in order to protect adults who are not capable of taking care of themselves due to an illness or disability. However, the very same laws intended to protect senior citizens are sometimes used to exploit them – often by the very people in charge of caring for them.

No one ever imagines getting to a point in their lives where they can’t take care of themselves. It can be even harder to envision a situation where you’re forced into the care of a relative, or worse, a stranger. Guardianship is meant to be in the best interests of the ward, but imagine having your rights taken away, being taken advantage of by your so-called caretaker, and having no legal power to fight back.

Forced guardianship is a scary issue many elderly citizens have faced due to family feuds and a legal system that may sometimes work against them due to improper planning.

Although rare, forced guardianship can happen to anyone. But by taking these steps early on, you may be able to keep your assets safe from financial exploitation.

Stay Informed on Forced Guardianship

To the uninformed, guardianship may seem harmless. The term itself has a positive connotation, and an idea of being taken care of and protected by someone who is caring and reliable. Some elderly citizens don’t realize that by consenting to guardianship, they are willingly relinquishing many of their basic rights.

By fully understanding the terms of the guardianship agreement, you can make an informed decision as to whether it is the right choice for you.

Have Proper Documentation in Order

While having documentation cannot necessarily prevent financial exploitation, it may help to have your wishes laid out in writing should you become incapacitated – or be declared incapacitated.

Your estate planning should include:

  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Advanced Health Care Directives
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Living Will

As well as planning, you should also be prepared to discuss your plans with those involved. If your relatives and loved ones know your wishes, it may be easier to prevent complications down the line. In some cases, family feuds arise due to disagreements or misinterpretations.  In these cases, if guardianship is in place, judges will rule both sides unfit to care for the elder, and will appoint a professional guardian.

Judges may favor these professional guardians, who are paid for their services straight from the elderly person’s assets. In some cases, the elderly person is treated poorly as their hard-earned savings accounts are being drained by a guardian they never wanted in the first place.

By having proper planning in order and communicating with your loved ones, you may be able to avoid needless family arguments that lead to court-appointed guardians who are paid for using your assets, leaving little behind for your loved ones.

For help with estate planning and protecting your assets, contact a reliable, experienced attorney like Christina Lesher.  Call (713)529-5900 to schedule an appointment today!

Using a multidisciplinary disciplined team we find the right resources and right path for your loved ones in the areas below