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How to Avoid Guardianship

     When a person becomes permanently disabled, he or she usually needs a guardian or conservator unless effective disability planning documents are in place.  When a court guardianship is imposed, the individual judged to be incapacitated loses autonomy.  The procedure can be expensive, frustrating and time-consuming.

     Guardianship can, in most cases, be avoided with the following five legal documents:

  • A comprehensive financial durable power of attorney

  • A comprehensive medical power of attorney or proxy

  • A comprehensive living will that states preferences as to end-of-life care

  • Medical information privacy releases compliant with the regulations required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

  • A revocable living trust when sufficient assets are involved.

     These documents should be specifically developed for a client’s individual needs.  Ineffective documents will not avoid probate guardianship and may lead to other unexpected problems.

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