Guardianship proceedings can be a necessary process to protect a loved one that has become incapacitated.
Often, at some point in one’s life, due to age, illness, debilitation, or accident, the ability to manage your affairs is lost. It is important to understand this reality and plan for before crisis strikes.
It is a good idea to do some estate planning and have essential documents in place, such as an advance health care directive, trust, and durable power of attorney for finances. Having this planning properly done ensures your financial and health care affairs will be managed according to your wishes.
If you fail to put the above directives in place, in Pennsylvania, the court may step in, making decisions on your behalf. This process involves the court appointing someone to manage your affairs, including your finances and medical care. The person appointed is referred to as a guardian. This person is responsible for ensuring that the needs of a child or incapacitated adult (the ward) are met. Adults who can no longer manage their personal or financial affairs due to mental or physical impairment are considered legally incapacitated. Sometimes families agree as to who would be best suited to serve as a guardian. Other times, there may be a conflict among family members regarding who should be appointed guardian. While these issues can be uncomfortable, it is important to consult with an attorney to understand the process involved and proceedings to follow.
In the process of appointing a guardian, an application for guardianship must be filled out and filed with the court. The application requires some basic information about the guardian as well as the incapacitated person. In addition, the application requires descriptions of the relationship between the parties and the nature of the incapacitation. The person in need of the guardian (sometimes referred to as the “ward”) is then given proper notice, and the court must appoint another attorney to represent the interests of the ward. Ultimately, the court hears the issues and merits associated with the appointment of a guardian and decides on the appointment.
Frankel Estate Planning & Elder Law, LLC is focused and experienced in helping our Pennsylvania area clients find clarity, control, and peace as they plan for the expected and unexpected. We strive to break down complex issues so you can be empowered to make the best decisions for your loved ones. Please contact us to learn more about the specific Guardianship services we offer by calling (610) 897-8994.