We help you protect a loved one who is unable to make his own decisions.
Example: Bill and Sue are a married couple in their eighties. Bill’s mental health has been declining for a while. Sue and their children don’t feel he is capable of making his own decisions any more, but a lot of things like credit cards and bank accounts are still in his name. They are worried. What can they do?
The good news is that if Bill has an estate plan, then he probably has a General Power of Attorney naming someone his agent for making financial decisions. Hopefully, he also has a health care surrogate to make health care decisions and an expanded living will guiding that agent in how to make such decisions. If so, then the family probably already has all it needs to handle Bill’s situation.
What if there isn’t a heath care surrogate or expanded living will in place?
The bad news is that if Bill hasn’t made such a plan, then it is probably too late to do so. He may no longer have the legal capacity to sign the needed documents. In that event, the family’s only option may be to petition the court to appoint a legal guardian for Bill. Once that petition is filed, the County Attorney’s office reviews the case. If it agrees a guardian is needed, then it will bring the matter to a jury trial. If the jury agrees that a guardian is necessary, then the Judge will enter an order to that effect and will have a separate hearing on whom should be appointed guardian.
As you can see, this is an involved process and one that is often difficult for families to handle. We can help you decide if there are alternatives to formal guardianship and, if not, we can help you through the process of getting someone appointed as guardian for your loved one.