If you saw the bad result of a guardianship - what steps would you do now to make sure it doesn't happen to you?

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20 yrs down the road? After seeing what has happened to a friend and her husband, I am trying to learn what I can do to protect my husband and self. I know the court was acting as they thought was right, yet the appointed guardian made statements in private which could not be proven, statements to show that it was a matter of grabbing an estate. And the accusations laid to obtain the emergency guardianship were later shown to be false. Still it's all settled now. And I see it's not all for the better. And I think what can we do? I believe in our children yet so did our friends believe in their child. I wonder what safeguards there are - not only to protect one from their loved ones - also from the legal system or it's manipulation by others. Money is always an object - having it or not can decide way too much.

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A Durable Power of Attorney may not be desirable in the near term because it invests the Attorney in Fact with powers immediately (some states permit "springing powers" upon incapacity but others, like Florida, do not).
A revocable living trust is a great instrument that can be drawn so as to permit a successor trustee accession only upon the incapacity or death of the initial trustee. Note: The biggest shortcoming of this estate plan is that people fail to re-title assets into the name of the trust...only assets titled in the name of the trust are governed by the terms of the trust!
A well constructed Elder Care Financial Plan will also include a declaration of a "Pre-Need Guardian".
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You might want to write down everything you see as bad, take that to a savvy elder law attorney and get her to write up paperwork to be sure your interests are completely protected. However crude it might seem, even your kinfolk would appreciate compensation for their hours devoted to your care. Yes, it's your money and you can do with it just exactly as you want. But their time is their own and dis-respecting your family may result in a negative outcome for you. The idea of skipping the child(ren) and giving your money to the grandchildren is popular (who doesn't love their grandkids) but then you may expect that your child will not be interested in looking after you. Yes, they will find out about the will/trust. Perhaps it is possible to negotiate with your planned caregivers in advance rather than try to sneak one over on them? It's just that I've seen the results of an elder skipping generations on the inheritance and still expecting profuse attentive care from the children they disinherited. It didn't go well for the elder. Or if you know your kids are just not the caring or responsible type, you could arrange for a professional trustee to manage your affairs when you lose your mind and your body fails. You can also arrange to pay for an advocate and even professionals to come visit and sit with you, surrogate family essentially. I agree with the others, get an elder law attorney to help you.
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You should meet with a lawyer dedicated to estate law to get the legal protections in place now. While you might not need it for 20 years -- you could need it much sooner. 43 percent of individuals who are 40 are expected to have a short term disability event, lasting 90 days or more, before they are 65. By doing this when you are younger, it makes it much easier to ensure your loved ones (if you are counting on them) know what you want and where you keep your papers.

By doing it now, you have the time and perspective to plan. Since you are caring for someone, you know how complicated things can be. My parents had a trust and named my sister and I joint trustees. While I manage the day-today issues and pay the bills, my sister is the back-up. We have two brothers who also help which created a system of checks and balances and we are all engaged in supporting Mom now. A trust is a good way to help specify you wishes but it's more expensive to set up and requires that you do the work to put your assets into the trust. Again, a good estate lawyer can walk you through this.

The legal tools only go so far so I'm a huge advocate of organizing all of your information (financial, household, medical, online) so that the person you would count on can do the job of being your advocate. For a list of all the documents you should organize visit memorybanc and you can download a summary.
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My Mom had to be adjudicated incompetent, and the less-than-ethical elder lawyer directed her to an LLC which was both her executor and guardian. We had to go to court to get them removed. There is an intrinsic conflict of interest when the same business manages "health & well being" and "finances." The guardian social worker would charge for trivial chores...for instance, having a licensed social worker charge professional time to pick up a loaf of bread. An exploitative loop functioned. This LLC has a reputation in this city for burning off elders' estates. But when your loved one is jeopardized, you make quick, bad choices.

I agree with getting the bank to automatically pay as much as possible. Perhaps it would be good to survey assisted living facilities in advance too.

The rub of it is that there is no business, or business credential, which will assure compassion and integrity. And that is what we will be in most dire need of when we are elderly and infirm.
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I would suggest a Durable Power of Attorney of someone you trust explicitly. As long as they act with full integrity you can avoid guardianship. I might suggest interviewing professional POA's who have medical case management on their team or a professional POA and a Trust to pay for a medical advocate. Just as you have experienced horrible concerns with guardianship, family POA's can also be problematic when things get complicated.
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Talk to a lawyer right away. You can be very, very specific about what you want. Do your own research about what you might want. Yes, it is twenty years down the road--but the basic shape of options and costs will probably not change.

You can set up a trust with yourself as the main trustee (see a lawyer) and you can also, as I have done, be very specific about who gets what and when in the will itself. This can head people off at the pass.

I have left my only daughter a lump sum--a very modest lump sum. The rest goes into a trust for my grandchildren, to be given to them in smaller lumps at important moments of their lives: for college, for a house or business, the rest at age 40!!!!!! Some people thought that was crazy. Let' em! My lawyer thought it was brilliant, and I know the situation. My daughter (age 30) has been married twice and each of her husbands has now been married twice. Her children will probably do the same thing.

You might also want to consider Long-term Care insurance. That might take some of the sting out of this. Again, you have nothing lost by educating yourself. You are very right to think about this and act on this now!!!!!!!!!!
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I know one that is happening right now but the court has stopped me from doing anything because of her son who took it with out her knowing . and if I keep trying I will go to jail.
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There are several steps you could take, the first is would be the proper documents with the necessary provisions to allow the trusted individual the ability to carry out your financial and health care directives. POA's are necessary but most financial institutions will not honor them, you need to present the POA document to those financial institutions to find out their policy. It may be different for a spouse and a child serving as POA. You could also use a Revocable Living Trust, again you need to have confidence in the persons who would trustee. You could have more than one serving as Co-Trustee and all trustees would have to agree on any distributions, or use a corporate trustee or co-trustee to supervise or audit any acts by the trustee. This couldalso be your CPA or attorney. Talk with an Elder Law Attorney for more ways to accomplish your concerns.
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plan ahead, plan ahead & plan ahead. Complete advance directives/living will, if you have someone you trust, name them as your durable power of attorney (medical/financial) that will kick in when you are no longer able to make decisions. By completing your advance directives/living will you are putting in writing and signing this legal document stating your wishes for care should you become unable to communicate. Your power of attorney must make decisions based on your wishes. You can make arrangements with your bank to automatically pay bills such as utility, rent etc. By planning ahead, a guardianship wouldn't be necessary. When there is a case that comes across my desk and there is a named power of attorney or a health care agent and advance directives, a guardianship isn't needed. The only way then a guardianship would be looked at is if your representative is exploiting you financially or not making decisions you would make as listed in your advance directives. You can look online on your state's attorney general's website for advance directive forms. Your doctor may also have copies of the forms and you can speak to your doctor if you have questions. Your doctor should have a copy and you should keep the original. A trusted family member or your power of attorney/health care agent should also have a copy of your advance directives. I'm not old, but I have mine completed because we never know what will happen.
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Perhaps I should elaborate. I would never want to be taken care of by my daughter. She is just not that kind of person. And, if I left her money, she would spend it all in two years. The grandchildren would have nothing to fall back on.
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