Our family is the most important part of life. When a loved one ages or is unable to make their own decisions, you may need to take over guardianship. Most people think of guardianship as it relates to children, but older individuals may need assistance in the form of a guardian. It is helpful to plan ahead for such a possibility. However, even if you don’t have a plan in place, it is possible to take over the guardianship of an elderly loved one.
What is Guardianship?
Guardianship is a way to legally take over the affairs of another person. Someone may be a guardian over a person or their estate. A guardian has the legal authority to act on behalf of someone. That person may be an incapacitated adult, such as a parent. If you do not have a provision in your trust to appoint someone to handle your affairs, your loved one might need to seek guardianship. Guardianship may be temporary or permanent. Only a court can assign a guardian to legally take over for you. Courts provide a guardian with control over specific matters.
What is a Guardian’s Authority?
A guardian has legal authority as specified by the court. A guardian has the legal duty to make decisions that are in the best interest of the person. The court does have the authority to oversee the actions of a guardian. A guardian of an estate can make legal decisions regarding finances, contracts, and other matters that involve property or finances. A guardian of a person is able to make personal decisions for someone. Some of these decisions may include such things as where to reside and medical care, among others. The court may appoint the same person to both guardianship roles.
Why is a Guardian Necessary?
A guardian is necessary for situations where a person becomes unable or unfit to make decisions on their own behalf. This is particularly true of individuals who are in the latter stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. A guardian might be needed to protect an elderly or incapacitated person from making poor financial or healthcare decisions. A relative may find that they need to step in because their loved one is unable to make decisions, and they could be in danger medically or financially. If a person is still able to make sound decisions, they can appoint someone power of attorney and thereby avoid the need to seek guardianship.
Seeking Guardianship in Wisconsin
The only way to become a guardian in Wisconsin is through appointment by a court. You must file a petition and request a hearing to review the matter. You must be able to provide sufficient evidence that a person is incompetent in order to become a guardian. In some cases, the court will provide temporary guardianship first when there is an immediate or emergency need for a guardian. The process of assigning a permanent guardian can take some time. The court will also appoint a standby guardian. This person does not have any role in decision-making unless and until the guardian dies or resigns. Only then will a standby guardian take over control of the guardianship.
Guardianship can be complicated, yet it is sometimes necessary. If you are seeking guardianship, we can help. Call us today at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. at (608) 784-8310 or by email to schedule a consultation.