In this post, I discuss the process of establishing an adult guardianship, particularly for family members who are unable to care for themselves.
Unfortunately, the potential for eventual incapacitation is a risk that affects us all. Whether as a result of injury or illness, all of us could, at some point in our lives, become incapacitated. What will your family do if you become unable to make decisions for yourself? Who will take care of your property? How will your family manage financial matters?
If there is no power of attorney or living trust in place, it may take a court order for your family to obtain the authority to act on your behalf. In such an event, adult guardianship proceedings become necessary.
To initiate adult guardianship proceedings, a third party will file a request for guardianship with the court. The term guardianship is often used interchangeably with conservatorship, but the two are distinct. In Arkansas, conservatorships are generally voluntary and so do not require the ward to be incapacitated. Because no evaluation of mental competence is necessary, conservatorships are generally less expensive to establish and administer.
During the adult guardianship proceedings, the potential guardian must provide a list of the ward’s assets, sources of income, and other pertinent financial information. To protect the ward’s financial interests, the guardian must file an accounting with the court every year.
Alternatives to Adult Guardianship
Adult guardianship proceedings can be time consuming and inconvenient, and so it is much better to make preparation for incapacity prior to its occurrence. This can be done through a durable power of attorney or a living trust. Preparation for incapacity is an important part of any estate plan as a little preparation now can save your family a lot of grief and expense later.