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What are the different types of guardianships?

When it comes to estate planning, it's never too early for an adult to draft a will, advanced directive or a durable power of attorney to protect his or her interests. It's not necessary for an individual to be rich, married, own his or her own home, have kids, a really good job or own a business to have these drafted. Everyone can benefit from planning their estate.

So many people either don't hear or respond to such a call to action, though. It's unfortunately all too common for people to suffer either debilitating injuries or illnesses without having their personal affairs in order.

If someone you know either becomes incapacitated, unconscious or otherwise unable to make decisions for him or herself and he or she hasn't yet planned his or her estate, then you may be able to petition a judge to appoint you as his or her guardian.

A guardian for an adult is not all that different from one that may be appointed to help raise a child. Once appointed as such, that individual is able to make medical decisions as well as ones regarding shelter, finances and food for his or her loved one.

In most cases, the petitioner, or the person requesting to be appointed as guardian, is a family member. It is possible for someone representing an outside agency, such as a health care facility or social service agency, to also request to be appointed as guardian to an adult, especially if the person has no known relatives.

There are two types of guardianships that exist. An unlimited one is known as a committeeship and a limited one is referred to as a conservatorship. The latter allows the guardian to manage only a single aspect of an individual's life, such as his or her financial affairs.

Unlimited guardianships are fairly rare, namely because of how involved it is proving that an individual is completely incompetent to exert control over any aspects of his or her life including personal relationships.

If you're concerned about your loved one's competence to make financial and other personal decisions on his or her own, then a St. George estate planning attorney can advise you of your right to file for guardianship of him or her.

Source: HealthyAging.org, "Guardianship," accessed June 07, 2018

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