Most of us think of parents’ legal rights to make decisions for their children, but we expect adults to be able to make these decisions for themselves. When there are circumstances out of the norm, another may need to become involved to provide for, and make decisions for children or adults. This person is called a guardian, or a conservator.
For example, a child may inherit assets or an estate and need a guardian if there are no parents available. The guardian would protect these until the child reaches adulthood. Likewise, an adult may become incapacitated due to disease, mental illness, or mental deficiency. Someone may need to step in if the adult is no longer able to care for themselves. A court-ordered guardianship may not be the best alternative.
Guardianship may involve a significant loss of freedom and dignity, but with proper guidance and forethought, some less restrictive alternatives are available. These vary with each individual situation of course, but may include a Power of Attorney, Representative or Protective Payee, a Conservatorship, a Revocable Trust, or others.
A knowledgeable and experienced attorney will help you navigate these choices, and help you find the best possible solution for your circumstances.