When creating an estate plan, there are many factors to consider beyond how to divide one’s assets after death. In fact, with proper elder law guidance, an estate plan can be a valuable resource in many stages of life. One example is by establishing a power of attorney against the possibility that the testator should become incapacitated by age or illness. However, few people in Delaware take advantage of this tool, which may require loved ones to seek legal guardianship.

By law, an adult must petition the court to obtain authority for the financial and medical decisions of a parent who is no longer able to care for him or herself. If all family members agree to the guardianship, the matter may be resolved quickly, but when people disagree, the matter can get complicated, expensive and emotionally draining. When more than one person files for guardianship, the court will weigh the qualifications of both and make a ruling.

Once the guardian is appointed, he or she will make all decisions allowed by the court for the well-being of the ward. This may include deciding where the ward will live, handling the finances, paying bills and making decisions about medical care and end-of-life options. Guardians are typically ordered to allow the ward as much independence and input as possible and to make regular accounting to the court on the ward’s state of mind, general health and financial status.

Seeking guardianship for a loved one is an emotional ordeal, and the role of a guardian can be stressful and complex. Fortunately, there are resources available to help those in Delaware who have lovingly undertaken this difficult task. One important resource is the advocacy of a compassionate elder law attorney who can support guardians in their critical responsibilities.

Source: agingcare.com, “How to Get Guardianship of an Elder,” Marlo Sollitto, Oct. 28, 2017