Guardianships for Incapacitated Adults Becoming the Norm

Sometimes it is a condition that has existed since birth, or maybe it was the result of a serious accident. No matter what the cause, these individuals are unable to make decisions on their own. They do not understand the choices that they have to make, nor do they know what is best for their situation.

When the incapacitated person is a minor, and one or both of the parents are still alive, usually one of the parents will be able to make decisions on behalf of the child without any major issues. However, when the child is over 18, the situation can become much more complicated.

Many professionals are refusing to provide services to incapacitated individuals unless a guardian has been established by the court. For example, when an adult who is deemed to be incapacitated needs medical treatment, doctors and physicians are reluctant to begin a treatment plan if no guardian has been named. Any treatment that is without the incapacitated person's permission could open the medical professionals and hospital to legal action.

Banking officers and other financial advisers may be reluctant to control the assets of an incapacitated individual for the same reason. Investments may not pan out, and unless they were explicitly approved, the decisions made by the advisers may expose them to liability. Government agencies may also insist that a court order naming a guardian is in place before providing benefits for an incapacitated adult.

Guardianships need to be approved by court order before the named person will be allowed to make any decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual. The court will need to learn why the person is incapacitated, and then determine the ability of the individual to make decisions. At times, the court may order guardianships to be very narrow in their scope and duration, depending upon the condition of the individual.

If you have questions about the guardianship process, contact an experienced attorney in your area. Taking these steps now can save you from having to make difficult decisions in the future.