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Estate planning could reduce chance of court appointed guardian

When most people in Lee County think of estate planning, they think of the legal documents that are created in order to convey your final wishes to family members and friends. There is more, however, to planning for the end of one’s life, than just the final details. Thorough estate planning will often also include instructions for how you want to be cared for, and by whom, in the event you become incapacitated, whether due to mental illness, an accident or some other cause.

Guardianships are meant as a legal measure to ensure that a person’s needs, including medical treatment, clothing, living arrangements and nourishment, are all adequately met and provided for. Unfortunately, however, not all guardians put their legal responsibility and the well being of the person they are charged with caring for first.

A woman in Pennsylvania reportedly claims that her situation with her mother’s legal guardian is evidence of the problems with the guardianship system. According to reports, a court appointed a guardian for the woman’s mother due to a dispute between her and her brother. The guardian, the woman claims, has taken advantage of her position and is depleting her mother’s estate. The guardian of the woman’s mother reportedly stopped her from visiting her mother and moved her a significant distance away from family, both of which she is authorized to do as her legal guardian. It remains unknown to the public whether she is pursuing dissolving the guardianship.

Consulting with an attorney to create an estate plan that accounts for guardianship, in the event you can no longer care for yourself, and other medical decisions, may be able to help you avoid a situation where a dispute between family members compromises your level of care and comfort.

Source: Observer-Reporter, “As Pa. ages, state examines guardianship and abuse”, Halle Stockton, Sep. 14, 2013

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