Sometimes a person who would otherwise need a guardian can be served in a less restrictive way. The following are some alternatives to guardianship, presented in alphabetical order.
Advance Medical Directive - An Advance Medical Directive allows a person to select another person who will act as their agent in making health care decisions when the individual can not make their own decisions. An advance medical directive may include a living will. A living will is a set of instructions about what health care decisions are wanted.
Caregiver - A caregiver is a person who takes care of another person who cannot care for himself or herself. Caregivers can be motivated by love, a sense of duty, or by financial reimbursement (pay), and are not appointed by a court. Many people receive care from family members or other people, so they don't need a guardian. However, a caregiver lacks legal authority to make legal or financial decisions for another person.
Power-of-Attorney - A power-of-attorney allows one person to make decisions for another person. There are several types, as follows:
A limited power-of-attorney gives a person the power to perform a specific action. For example, a limited power-of-attorney may allow the one person to sell another person's automobile.
A general power-of-attorney gives a person the authority to perform any action for another person.
A durable power-of-attorney is in force even if the person becomes incapacitated. A durable power-of-attorney lets a person choose who will act if he or she can not act. The person selected for a durable power-of-attorney must be someone who is totally trustworthy. Having a durable power-of-attorney may make a guardianship unnecessary.
Representative Payee - A representative payee is a person appointed to take care of another person's money. Government benefits may be paid to a representative payee. The person appointed as the Representative Payee will pay for the other person's living expenses. The Social Security Administration and the Veterans Administration (if applicable) must be contacted to have a representative payee appointed for someone.
Trust - A trust is an arrangement where one person manages property for the benefit of another person. The person who manages the property is called a trustee. The person for whom the property is managed is called the beneficiary. The trust agreement which is created by the person establishing the trust directs how the trustee is to act. Trusts may change a person's right to public benefits such as Social Security disability and Medicaid. Trusts may cause tax problems, so the advice of a lawyer should be sought when a trust is made.
For more information on alternatives to guardianship, contact us.