Estate planning tools to avoid guardianship

When a person becomes incapacitated, either mentally or physically, and needs legal protection, it is often necessary to go through the court system to have a guardian appointed – that is, unless you utilize some useful estate planning tools in advance to eliminate the financial and emotional pain of this burdensome legal procedure..

 Guardianship is a legal proceeding whereby a court appoints someone (the guardian) to become responsible for exercising all the legal rights of an incapacitated person, known as a “ward.”

The guardianship process can be difficult for many families, and can be avoided through careful estate planning; here’s how:

Advance medical directive – also known as health care power of attorney, this legal document lets you name someone to act on your behalf in case you become incapacitated and cannot make your own health care decisions.

Financial power of attorney – gives an agent you name the power to make financial decisions for you in case of your incapacitation. Financial powers of attorney can either be durable – meaning it goes into effect as soon as the document is executed – or springing, meaning the power of attorney only goes into effect if and when you have been declared mentally incompetent by a court or one or more doctors.

Revocable living trust – one of the most efficient ways to avoid guardianship is by establishing a revocable living trust, funding it with your assets and naming someone as disability trustee. You control the trust as long as you are competent; if you should become incapacitated (how this is to be determined should be spelled out), the disability trustee can take over and manage your assets for your benefit.

With the proper guidance, you can protect your finances and spare your loved ones the frustration of having to make costly and difficult decisions.  Contact us for your free initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.

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No matter where you are in life’s journey, we can help.

Whether you need to update your estate plan, are preparing for future long-term care needs, or have a loved one entering or already in a nursing home, we are ready to assist you.

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