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Estate Planning FAQ

Things to Think About: Choosing a Guardian

A person incapacitated by age or health problems may need a legal guardian or conservator appointed for them. Conservators frequently are appointed to handle the financial affairs of the incapacitated, while guardians usually look after the personal affairs of the incapacitated person or child.

Sometimes, these roles can be executed by the same person; at other times, they are assigned by the court to different people. Some states also have rules against family members becoming conservators to lessen the strain on family relationships.

Guardianships and conservatorships are most often established or approved by court order when an adult becomes unable to deal with his or her personal affairs, but in some instances, an individual may pre-select a guardian to look after them in the event of incapacity.

If you have a role in selecting or approving a guardian, you should give serious thought to the following ten questions:

  • Are they honest, ethical and time-conscious (can meet deadlines consistently)?
  • Do they have a criminal record of any sort?
  • Do they manage their own personal affairs responsibly?
  • Do they have business, professional or educational experiences that suits them particularly well in terms of performing a guardian’s and conservator’s required duties?
  • Do they have time to perform the duties of a guardian or conservator?
  • Are they in good health?
  • Does the candidate have a history of substance abuse problems?
  • Can they earn the cooperation, support and respect of those impacted by their decisions?
  • Did the ward discuss their wishes for appointing a guardian before becoming incapacitated?
  • Are they related to the ward by marriage or blood? (This is not required.) If not, do they know the ward well enough to understand and execute the ward’s likely intentions?

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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