How far in advance have you planned for the care and security of yourself, your children, or an elderly family member in the event of an emergency? Guardianship ensures that you and your loved ones are cared for by someone who respects you and has your best interests at heart when you aren’t able to care for yourself. Guardianship Declarations are most commonly filled out by parents who want to name the person who will care for their children in the event the parents themselves are no longer around. I also recommend adults fill out a Guardianship Declaration form for themselves as well. This allows you to designate a person to take care of YOU, should a time come when you are unable to handle your own medical care or finances.
Guardianship Declarations are when one person is given the legal right to make decisions for another person who has been declared incapacitated and cannot care for themselves (commonly called the “ward”). Wards are most often children, elderly persons, or persons with severe medical issues. The guardian has the power to determine what medical care is given to the ward, where the ward lives, who can visit the ward, etc. There are two types of guardianships; a Guardian of the Person (who does all of the above) or a Guardian of the Estate (who manages the ward’s finances). The same person usually fills both these roles. However, there are times when the court may appoint a different person to manage a ward’s finances – for instance, if you have a large financial estate the court may require someone financially savvy such as a banker or financial planner to serve as Guardian of the Estate.
The Guardianship Declaration form is very easy to execute and put in place. This document allows you to name the primary person who will provide care should the need arise. It is also a good idea to list an alternate choice in the event your primary choice cannot, or will not, accept the responsibility if the time comes. The court will perform due diligence to ensure the person named is fit to serve, but you can take comfort in knowing the court will strongly lean in favor of whoever you’ve named over someone else who may come forward and attempt to take on the role.
The Guardianship Declaration also allows you to name anyone you do NOT want to be appointed as guardian. If there are family members who likely will not act in your best interest, I strongly advise you to make that known on your form. Remember, this is a document that will be presented to the court in the event you cannot speak for yourself. The court place greater weight on this document that you’ve filled out yourself, over the application or testimony of someone you’ve already excluded.
As always, feel free to contact The Gilkes Law Firm for advice on who to choose as your guardian, crafting the Guardianship Declaration, and completing any additional legal paperwork.