If you have a chronic condition that keeps you from doing the things you love, living with this disability might be your new normal. Fortunately, with self-determination laws and advanced planning, you can live as independently as possible.
However, in some situations and with some conditions, it’s not always clear who will take care of you if you can’t make personal decisions for yourself. Luckily, in most states, there are laws that spell out what happens when someone may no longer be able to care for themselves. These laws are known as guardianship or incapacitation laws.
What Is Guardianship?
If you have a serious condition like dementia, or you’re simply aging or ill, you may one day no longer be able to make your own medical decisions. If that happens, your loved ones may need to step in and make those decisions for you. That’s called guardianship. In guardianship, the state makes you one of its wards, which means your family or close friends can make medical decisions on your behalf.
They can make medical decisions even if you disagree with them and don’t have any right to object. There are reasons why you may want to be made a ward, like if you’re seriously sick or you’re getting old and have a condition that makes you unable to make your decisions for long stretches of time.
What Is Incapacity?
When someone is incapacitated, they have a physical or mental condition that prevents them from making their own decisions. In this case, the individuals are unable to make legal or financial choices for themselves. A person’s inability to make legal and financial decisions can be temporary or permanent. Temporary incapacity happens because of a physical or mental condition that may, in time, subside.
A person’s permanent incapacity is usually due to old age or disability. In this case, someone who is incapacitated can’t make any legal or financial decisions on their own. Their family or trusted friends can take care of their financial and medical needs and make decisions for them. Incapacity doesn’t always mean someone is going to be made a ward. However, if a person’s incapacity is permanent, they may need to be made a ward sooner rather than later.
Who Can Apply for Guardianship?
In most states, a person can apply to have another person become their guardian, or become a ward. That person may be a close friend or family member, or a professional like a trusted attorney or a social worker. You can also apply if your child becomes disabled. In this case, the guardian has a duty to care for the child’s financial and medical needs.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Financial Decisions
If you’re set to receive medical care in a hospital or receive medical treatment at a nursing home, you’ll want a durable power of attorney for health care. A durable power of attorney is a type of non-transferable power of attorney that allows you to appoint someone (often your attorney) to make medical decisions on your behalf while you can’t speak for yourself. This type of guardianship lets your attorney handle your finances without giving up control rights. It’s a common type of guardianship for people who are elderly or have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
You can live as independently as possible if you protect your rights and finances, regardless of your health or age. Guardianship laws allow you to make decisions for yourself in the event that you have either temporary or permanent incapacity. If you need an attorney for will and trust or an estate planning attorney, reach out to Ruben J. Padron, PA. The firm has been serving Miami clients since 2005.
Categorised in: Power of Attorney