People can become incompetent in a number of ways. Common causes include accidents, stroke, or disease. Should a person unexpectedly become incompetent, only an Agent under a Power of Attorney or a court appointed guardian can make the incompetent person’s healthcare or financial decisions.
We encourage all individuals to prepare Powers of Attorney. By preparing these documents our clients choose who will make their medical and financial decisions. We encourage our clients to discuss their wishes with their nominated Agents so they are comfortable that their goals and desires will be followed should something unexpected occur.
The guardianship process is required when a person becomes incompetent and has not executed Powers of Attorney. Guardianship proceedings are initiated with the filing of a petition with the probate court. The petition must provide the name of the incompetent person and set forth the basis for the incompetency.
The guardianship process is expensive, both emotionally and financially. It requires the appointment of an attorney for the incompetent person. Further, the court is required to appoint a psychologist or doctor to undertake an independent evaluation regarding a person’s ability to make financial or healthcare decisions. There is no insurance coverage for the medical assessment. The legal fees and expenses for the psychologist or doctor are paid from the incompetent person’s income or assets.
The guardianship process is cumbersome and time consuming. A court hearing is required to determine if the individual requires a Guardian. It can take several months to obtain a permanent guardian and the case must be reviewed by the probate office or court on an annual basis.
We have years of experience with guiding families through the guardianship process. Let us help you if you find your family in need of guardianship legal services.