Guardianship is a fairly straightforward and basic function. A person who is not able to handle her or his own affairs for any number of reasons, is assigned a guardian by the court, who is to act on their behalf for financial, medical and care-taking purposes. The guardian is charged with putting the interest of their ward first and is entrusted with a great deal of responsibility. However, as the Wall Street Journal reports, in "Abuses Plague Guardianship Systems Across the Country," the financial abuse of elderly people by guardians is rampant throughout the United States.
Court-appointed guardians with no family relationship to their elderly wards too often act in their own interests and deplete the wealth of the wards. But this problem is mostly avoidable through estate planning. Part of a good estate plan is planning for end-of-life issues and getting a general durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. With those two documents, you can appoint someone you know and trust to look after your financial and medical affairs in case you are ever not competent to do so. Doing that can often make the appointment of a guardian unnecessary. Even if a guardian is necessary, a court will likely appoint the person you have already designated as trustworthy whenever possible.
Do not fall victim to an abusive guardian. Schedule an appointment with an estate planning attorney so that you can create a plan and make your own decisions about who should look after your affairs if you are not able to do so.
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Reference: Wall Street Journal (October 30, 2015) "Abuses Plague Guardianship Systems Across the Country"