Alternatives to Guardianship
An incapacitated person who cannot handle their own medical, personal, or financial decisions may need a guardian or conservator. While guardianship may be necessary for some disabled people or seniors in Virginia, family members of other incapacitated persons can often choose less restrictive options.
Call our team at Commonwealth Life and Legacy Counsel at (434) 589-2958 in Zion Crossroads, Virginia or (804) 598-1348 in Powhatan, Virginia, to find out which alternatives to guardianship might work for your family.
Who May Need a Guardian in Virginia?
A Virginia circuit court may appoint a guardian for any adult (known as a ward) suffering from a physical or mental health condition that makes them unable to make decisions regarding their own medical care, housing, finances, and more.
A guardian may:
- Decide what sort of medical treatment the ward will receive
- Determine where the ward will live
- Handle the ward’s finances, including government benefits like SSI
The problem with full guardianship and conservatorship is the highly restrictive nature of these legal arrangements. Some incapacitated adults may only need some help with managing some matters but not others.
Alternatives to Guardianship in Virginia
The following legal options may help you avoid guardianship or conservatorship in Virginia:
- Durable power of attorney (POA): a legal document that empowers your chosen agent to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated
- Advanced medical directives: documents naming a health care proxy who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unconscious or unable to decide for yourself.
- Representative payees: a representative payee whom you appoint to manage your Social Security Administration benefits
- Living trusts: arrangements setting up your assets under a separate legal entity, naming a successor trustee to take over trust management
Timely Planning Can Help You Avoid Guardianship and Conservatorship
Here’s the catch with durable powers of attorney, advanced directives, and other types of legal documents that can provide alternatives to guardianship: You must draft them before you need them.
For example, if you are suffering from a degenerative condition like dementia, your physician may declare you incapable of authorizing a POA document. In this case, your family may have no choice but to file for guardianship, and the court-appointed guardian may not be the person you would choose yourself.
To keep control over your life and spare your family the legal trouble of guardianship proceedings, contact us at Commonwealth Life and Legacy Counsel today. We’ll help make sure your estate plan covers what happens during your life, not just after your death.
Commonwealth Life & Legacy Counsel: Safeguard Your Future with Smart Estate Planning
A stroke, accident, or debilitating illness may rob you, fully or partially, of your capacity to handle your own affairs. When the unforeseen happens, you’ll need a comprehensive estate plan that preserves your independence and protects your interests.
At Commonwealth Life and Legacy Counsel, with offices in Zion Crossroads and Powhatan, Virginia, we use a range of legal tools, from advanced directives and trusts to durable powers of attorney, to help you stay in control of your life under any circumstances.