If you’re like most, you probably think that we here at The Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo stress the importance of estate planning so that you can control what happens with your assets when you die. Yet could it also be that we want you to avoid having to surrender your assets, property, and even your decision making to a potential stranger, all while you are still alive? That’s exactly what could happen if you’re placed under the care of a public guardian.
Public guardianship is similar to a conservatorship. However, in this case, the person who’s given the power over you isn’t a friend or family member, but rather a member of a public guardian group. In many cases, a single public guardian may be handling yours as well as the affairs of several other wards simultaneously.
If you are deemed by the court to be incapacitated or unable to care for yourself, and you haven’t handed decision-making authority over to a friend or family member, a public guardian can be given total control over your money, your medical care, or even your decision about where to live. Plus, little oversight is in place to monitor what a guardian may be doing with your estate. In fact, the Government Accountability Office reported that between 1990 and 2010, over $5.4 million was stolen from people by their guardians.
Preparing for your potential incapacitation is an important part of estate planning. Any of the following documents can eliminate the possibility of the court appointing a guardian for you:
- Medical and/or financial power of attorney
- Advance directives for health care
- A revocable living trust
More information on controlling your assets through estate planning can be found on our site.