Most people associate guardians with children, as underage kids always must have a guardian to manage their affairs and make their decisions. Children, however, are not the only ones without the ability to control their own destiny. Adults who suffer from a serious illness or injury could also become incapacitated, and could be left unable to make decisions for themselves or communicate their desires.
While kids automatically must have guardians, the same is not true for adults. If an adult needs assistance managing his affairs, guardianship proceedings must be initiated. Pyke & Associates, P.C. can help with this process. Our Atlanta, GA guardianship lawyers can also provide assistance in arguing against guardianship; exercising your rights and fulfilling obligations as a guardian; or finding alternatives so guardianship may never become necessary for you.
Give us a call at 770-507-2500 to learn more about the ways in which we can offer assistance with all legal matters related to guardianship and to find out answers to common questions including:
- How does guardianship work when someone is incapacitated?
- Is guardianship the only option for helping an incapacitated adult?
- How can an Atlanta, Georgia guardianship lawyer help?
How Does Guardianship Work When Someone is Incapacitated?
Parents are usually guardians for minors under the age of 18, and parents are given this authority automatically unless they lose it because they cannot properly care for a child.
When an adult needs guardianship, on the other hand, it may not be immediately clear that a guardian is even necessary. The adult will have autonomy unless or until it is proved that he or she needs a guardian. This can happen only after court proceedings are initiated.
If you believe someone you care about has a physical or mental issue which makes that person unable to manage his own assets or affairs, you can initiate guardianship proceedings in court. If the court is convinced the person is actually unable to act on his own, the person will be designated as a ward.
The court will then consider who would be the best guardian for the ward. This could be the person who initiated the court proceedings; another close family member; or even a professional court-appointed guardian. It is at the discretion of the court to determine who an appropriate guardian will be, and the guardian could end up becoming someone who the incapacitated person wouldn’t have really wanted to trust with his decisions.
Once a guardian has been selected, the guardian has a fiduciary obligation to act on behalf of, and in the best interests of, the ward. There is routine court oversight to make sure the guardian is doing his or her job and protecting the ward and the ward’s property and assets.
Is Guardianship the Only Option?
Guardianship is the only option to get control over managing someone’s assets and affairs if the incapacitated person is already of unsound mind and if no plans have been made in advance. This can be a problem if there have been no provisions made for incapacity, as the process of getting guardianship can be time consuming, complicated, and costly.
There are better solutions, which can spare families tough choices and give the incapacitated person the opportunity to choose who will take control. For example, one option which is preferred is the use of a power of attorney.
When a power of attorney is created, an attorney in fact or agent can be given virtually all of the same responsibilities a guardian would have. The difference is: the agent was actually selected by the person whose decisions the agent will be making.
The agent, like a guardian, has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the person who is incapacitated. However, there is no ongoing court oversight or judge being intrusive into the agent’s actions. Instead, legal action can be taken if the duty is breached, but otherwise the agent has authority without having to go to court or answer to a judge.
How can an Atlanta Guardianship Lawyer Help?
An Atlanta, Georgia incapacity planning lawyer can provide assistance to anyone who wishes to create an incapacity plan or power of attorney as an alternative to guardianship. We can also provide help to those who are seeking a guardianship for someone who they love. Give us a call today at 770-507-2500 or contact us online to find out more about the ways in which our legal team assists with guardianship. We represent clients in Atlanta, Peachtree City, Stockbridge, and surrounding areas, so reach out to us today and let us help you.