When you hear the term Legal Guardianship, you likely think of the legal guardians of children. However, legal guardianship is also important for people with disabilities, and those incapacitated by illness. If you do not prepare for the possibility that you or your child will need a legal guardian, it is possible that this decision could be left up to a judge. It is important to put measures into place to create legal guardianship for your minor children should you be incapacitated, or for yourself should you be deemed disabled or incapacitated enough to be unfit to make decisions for yourself.
You can appoint a legal guardian for your children in your will. Most people are aware of this. However it is important to consult with an attorney to be sure that the clause in your will is legally binding. Keeping this clause updated is an important way to protect your children.
A durable power of attorney (DPOA) allows another adult to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated, disabled, or too ill to make decisions for yourself. An attorney can help you to draw up a DPOA that will be legally binding. Should you become incapacitated, a judge will be in charge of determining who your legal guardian. Creating a DPOA allows you to make this decision for yourself before the fact – so that a person you trust and who knows best what your wishes would be will be placed in charge of your affairs.
Should you or a loved one become disabled to to physical or mental disability, and a power of attorney has already been created, then the person who has signed the power of attorney gains legal guardianship over the disabled person. However, should an adult become disabled and not have a power of attorney in place – the courts will be in charge of appointing a legal guardian for the ward. An attorney is able to file legal proceedings in order to petition the court to appoint a legal guardian for the person with the disability.
It is important to consider legal guardianship ahead of time. Once it is necessary to assign legal guardianship for a child, or disabled or incapacitated person, decisions will have to be made on that person’s behalf. All of us should be allowed to choose our own legal guardians for ourselves and our children. Meet with an attorney today in order to make sure that your legal guardianship documents are in order in case the worst should happen.