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How Guardianship Law Protects Older Adults

Guardianship law protects the elderly by designating a court-appointed caretaker to make decisions for adults who can't do so themselves. Read on to learn more about this topic.

Generally when we hear the term guardianship we think of minors who are being cared for by a court-appointed caretaker, but adults can enter into court-ordered situations as well.

Looking Out For Seniors

Aged adults who can no longer manage their finances or household affairs are often put under a guardianship or conservatorship by concerned children or relatives. Sometimes, guardians are appointed ahead of time, long before the person needs it, through an advance directive. In this situation, the older adult has a say in who his or her guardian will be and under what circumstances the conservatorship will come in to play.

How Guardianship Law Protects Older Adults

Guardianship law is designed to protect a person's finances and assets, healthcare and life decisions when they are unable to do so themselves. They may have become incapacitated due to age, illness or injury. There are three different types of arrangements: Guardian of the Person, the Estate of Property and Plenary Guardian.

A Guardian of the Person is charged with caring for the ward's health. They may take over making healthcare appointments, work with assisted living situations, pay medical bills and handle insurance issues on behalf of their ward. This type of conservatorship is most commonly found in an advance medical directive.

A Guardian of the Estate or Property has general jurisdiction over their ward's real estate property and assets. They usually take care of tax payments, inventory and distribution of property and the managing of finances.

A Plenary Guardian is more general in nature and is really a combination of the other two types of caretaking situations. These caretakers oversee the ward's healthcare and estate matters.

Setting Up A Guardianship

Conservatorships are created by court order. Working with an experienced elder attorney is the best course of action. Setting up a conservatorship is not a simple process and you'll want to rely on someone with experience and expertise in this area to make sure you're setting it up correctly. Elder law attorneys can also help set up advance care directives so you will have a conservator designated when the time comes.

To apply for conservatorship, you will need to file legal papers and follow that up with a court hearing. In the papers you must explain the physical or mental limitations that require the person to be placed under supervision. The person in question, along with other family members will be contacted for their input as well. The court will investigate the request to assess the condition of the proposed ward. At the hearingFree Web Content, the judge will either grant or deny the conservatorship request. If it is granted the conservator must provide regular reports to the court for the duration of the conservatorship.

Conservatorships are just one way to protect an elderly person's health and assets. There are many other legal solutions that can meet these needs if the senior doesn't qualify. Consulting a qualified attorney who specializes in guardianship law can provide you with other options.

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Peck Bloom is a firm of estate planning, elder law and litigation attorneys in Chicago. The firm provides estate and business planning services and can provide legal representation for all of your guardianship law and elder care needs. Visit their website for more information.

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