A recent article highlights the potential for abuse through court-appointed substitutes. A court-appointed attorney took advantage of her elderly and incapacitated clients by grossly overcharging for her services.
The Public Guardian (Public Fiduciary in Maricopa County) represents individuals and estates when no alternatives are qualified and willing to serve. Leaving this choice in the hands of someone other than yourself means you may not know what you are ultimately getting. Using A bit of pre-planning can ensure that you empower trusted individuals and entities with your care.
3 Documents, Which May Prevent the Need for Public Guardianship
1) Medical Advance Directives – These documents provide a detailed description of medical care preferences in case you are in an accident or face an illness. These documents allow you to speak for yourself when you are incapacitated and unable to make clear decisions about your future care. A medical advance directive is a critically important part of every estate plan, because without any guidance, and your chosen decision-makers, you place the details of your care in unknown hands.
2) Financial Power of Attorney – This document authorizes a person to manage and make decisions regarding your finances. Your designated agent may be authorized to address your financial matters in the event you become incapacitated. It is imperative that you make appropriate decisions regarding the person you authorize to handle your finances so that you know that no one is stealing from you or overcharging you for their assistance.
3) Trusts – Revocable Living Trusts can prevent court intervention and give direction on the terms under which an estate should be managed. A great reason to create a living trust is to avoid probate. Probate is when the court chooses someone to care for you and manage your estate. Having a team of people you can trust to take care of you in case you become incapacitated is something a living trust helps you accomplish. You select your team and your rules and avoid being cared for by unknown parties who may take advantage of you.
At Estrada Legal, we pride ourselves on taking a thorough approach to estate planning. If you have questions on whether a living trust, medical directive, or power of attorney is right for you, please contact us today.