One of the most important elements of probate law is guardianship. Whether you are drafting an estate plan or you have concerns about a family member, understanding the fundamentals of guardianship and conservatorship can help. There are a few key times when a guardianship order or conservatorship establishment is beneficial. Here's a look at some of the situations where these forms might apply.
You Have Minor Children
If you have, or you plan to have, minor children, it is important to understand the role of a guardianship document in your estate plan. Guardianship documents appoint someone to be the primary caregiver and legal guardian of your child in the event of your death. This protects your children from becoming wards of the state and going into foster care and allows you to have some say in where they go and how they are subsequently raised.
You Have A Child With A Disability
A dependent child with a disability should be a priority in your estate plan. The guardianship documents should address who will be responsible for the child's care in the long term after your death as well as what means you have provided to cover the costs of that care. When you establish guardianship for a disabled child, you ensure that they do not end up in a care facility unless it proves absolutely necessary.
You Care For A Dependent Family Member
Whether it is an aging parent with dementia or an adult sibling with multiple sclerosis or another disabling condition, you need to be sure that any dependent family members you currently care for are provided for and protected in your estate plan. A probate lawyer can help you create a conservatorship or finalize guardianship paperwork to transition your loved one into the proper care in the event of your death.
Your Spouse Is Medically Fragile
Regardless of the reason for their medical condition, any spouse that is medically fragile needs adequate arrangements for care in the event of their death. Remember that anyone who depends on you on a daily basis must be cared for when you are no longer available, so establish a guardianship system for your spouse as well.
These are just a few things that everyone should understand about guardianship, estate plans, and the probate court process for protecting family members and loved ones after your death. Proactively creating these records can give you peace of mind that they are provided for.
Consult a probate attorney to learn more.