When an adult family member becomes unable to make decisions on their own and care for themselves due to aging, a physical disability, or mental illness, it may be necessary for a close relative (such as a child) to file a petition for conservatorship, in order to gain the legal status to make important decisions on behalf of their loved one. This process is often difficult and draining both emotionally and financially, as you are essentially removing an adult’s rights to control their own life, even if it is in their best interest.
Are There Reasons I Would Require A Conservatorship?
While there are situations when filing for a conservatorship becomes an unavoidable step, in some cases, proper estate planning can prevent future headaches and reduce the need for your family to have to go through a conservatorship process in the first place. It is common for families to avoid talking about the topic—nobody likes to think about what may happen if they become incapacitated or pass away—but waiting for a health crisis to erupt is worse than simply facing a few uncomfortable conversations and making decisions about your medical care and your estate ahead of time.
Are Conservatorships Difficult To Do?
Conservatorships are a lengthy and expensive process. A proper estate plan, whether it is simple or more complex, can save you and your family significant amounts of time and money and help you avoid undue stress. Rather than rushing to take care of the situation when an unexpected medical need arises, your family will be able to simply activate your estate planning documents (such as a durable power of attorney or a healthcare directive) to not only make decisions on your behalf but to also ensure your wishes for care are respected.
For example, your estate planning documents can have—at the very least—a living will, a last will, and a financial power of attorney. With a living will, you can record your wishes and preferences regarding medical care and treatment and appoint someone to make those decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated and are unable to speak for yourself. A financial power of attorney works in conjunction with your living will and appoints a trustworthy person of your choice to be in charge of making financial decisions on your behalf. Your last will determines what happens to your assets after you pass away, includes your wishes to how your property should be divided among your beneficiaries, and designates a guardian for any of your children who are minors. You may even choose to set up a living trust in addition to your will, so you can keep your estate out of probate.
Documents such as these determine who will speak on your behalf and make decisions regarding your health and finances in case you become unable to do so. A power of attorney and living will allow your family to have at least some control and flexibility to make decisions for you without incurring the high costs and lengthy process of a conservatorship.
Will An Estate Plan Guarantee I Don’t Need A Conservatorship?
While proper estate planning does not entirely eliminate the possibility that a conservatorship may still be needed, it significantly increases the chances that your family can be spared from a lot of undue stress often brought on by a conservatorship or guardianship process. At Crow Estate Planning and Probate, PLC, our Clarksville estate planning attorneys have the skills and knowledge to advise you on any estate planning and conservatorship matters. Contact us to learn more about your options to preserve your legacy for the next generation.