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Is a guardian the best option if I become incapacitated?

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2023 | Estate Planning

Even if you have an estate plan, you may not have planned for incapacitation and unable to make decisions for yourself.

If you are in a coma, for example, who would pay the bills or manage your business? Who would make your health care decisions? And, if you have kids, you likely think that you should name a guardian for you.

The pros and cons

Like the guardianship of your children, having your own guardian has many benefits. These include protecting you from abuse and exploitation, monitoring your well-being and advocating for your best interests. The guardian is also accountable to the court and must report back to the court regularly.

However, guardianship also has some drawbacks. First, is cost. Since it is a court process, it involves attorneys’ fees, court fees, guardian fees, etc. There will also be a delay because it is a court process. Plus, your guardian may have conflicts with your family members or friends.

Health care proxy

Guardianship is not the only option. One option is a health care proxy. This is a document that allows you to appoint an agent to make your health care decisions. You can give your agent specific instructions or general guidance on your medical wishes.

Power of attorney

This is a document that allows you to appoint a person to handle your financial and legal affairs. This can be a limited or broad power that kicks in when you become incapacitated, and you can name an alternative as well.

Living will

This is a document that expresses your wishes regarding end-of-life care. A living will often includes instructions about whether you want to receive life-sustaining treatment or not, like life support, and if so, the extent to which you want to be on life support.

A guardianship may be the best option for you, but it is not the only option.

The key takeaway here is that you should have incapacity planning as part of your estate plan.