Have you noticed that one of your loved ones is having trouble remembering when to pay bills or take medications? Maybe you’ve been called by a neighbor because your elderly relative has been acting a little erratically. People often like to remain independent as long as possible, but there may come a time when you have to decide if your loved one needs a guardian or conservator
Guardianships in Alabama
Many people are aware that a guardianship may be ordered for minors, but don’t know guardianships may be appropriate for people who are unable to make decisions for some reason. Alabama law contains a definition of ‘incapacitated person.’ There are several conditions that can lead to a person being deemed incapacitated, including “physical or mental infirmities accompanying advanced age.”
To start the guardianship process, an individual will file a petition in probate court asking for letters of guardianship over an incapacitated person (the ward). Usually a family member or someone close to the potential ward may have noticed that the ward is having a difficult time making decisions and taking care of himself or herself. Among other things, the court will require that a doctor examine the ward. A court representative will investigate the ward’s situation to see if a guardianship is needed. The doctor will examine the ward and report back to the court. Another party, a guardian ad litem, will be appointed to represent the ward in the court proceedings.
After an investigation, a hearing will be held so the court can determine what actions are in the ward’s best interests. If necessary, a guardian will be appointed.
There are two types of guardianship: full and limited. If a full guardianship is ordered, the guardian makes all decisions for the ward. Limited guardianships leave some of the decision making to the ward when possible.
Avoiding Court Action
A guardianship proceeding may take time and run up legal fees. However, there are alternatives. Good estate planning can set up procedures to manage incapacity or disability. For example, before incapacity strikes, an individual can sign a durable power of attorney that designates a personal representative to make decisions. When talking to an attorney about estate planning, individuals can discuss how to avoid guardianships.
Plan for Long-Term Health Care Now.
Schedule a free consultation with the attorneys at Adams Miller, LLP. Long-term health care doesn’t have to break the bank or leave your beneficiaries with nothing. Our attorneys know how to help people like you. Just give us a call at 256-251-2137 or use our Contact Form to set up an appointment. Serving clients in the greater Anniston area, including Birmingham, Talladega, and Gadsden.