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Detailing adult guardianship in Delaware

Far too many people in Delaware simply assign estate planning to determining the distribution of their assets upon their deaths. Yet another important element is planning for one’s own personal care should they find themselves in a position where they experience incapacitation (or are otherwise unable to care for themselves).

Plans addressing this potential may include assigning power of attorney to another, yet such a privilege typically applies to scenarios where one needs assistance in making important decisions. In cases where one cannot see to their basic needs, adult guardianship may often be the better option.

Naming a guardian in one’s estate plan

As is the case with power of attorney, one can name the person they wish to be their guardian should they need such assistance at any time in their lives. Given the extensive care a ward often requires of a guardian, those considering who to assign such a privilege to may want to limit their options to those closest to them (such as immediate family members or close friends).

There may be scenarios, however, where one does not have an extensive personal network, which may limit their options in naming their own guardian. Per Section 3981 of Delaware’s Fiduciary Relations Code, local courts may appoint one from the state’s Public Guardian division as a guardian of last resort. A public guardian receives the same powers as one chosen by a ward, yet such power is only meant to serve the ward’s best interest.

Ending a guardianship

An adult guardianship need not be indefinite. One can specify in their estate plans the conditions under which a guardianship would end. According to the website for the Delaware Courts, one subject to a public guardianship can petition to have it ended if they can show sufficient recovery of their faculties to the point of seeing to their own care.

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