April 01, 2016

Guardianship: A Brave New World

Rinky Parwani

Reprinted from the March/April 2016 News Briefs of the Group Legal Services Association.

So your life is running along great! And then one day you are in a tragic accident that leaves you in a coma! Bam! What happens now? Have you thought about it? Have you planned for it? I know this sounds tragic but sometimes we find our clients in this exact situation. How do we help them and their relatives through this difficult time?

Perhaps you know someone with a special needs child who is not sure what to do when that child turns 18? How do you advise that person about options available to help them with their bank accounts and day to day affairs?

Guardianship? What is it? How do you explain it to your clients? This seminar will provide you with the necessary tools for your tool box to provide your clients with options. Moreover, you may leave with tools that will help you think about how to plan your life in emergency situations as well.

Perhaps the biggest myth in guardianship is that it is a legal tool for the incapacitated. The brave new world allows guardianships to be utilized in a more limited manner. For example, a full guardianship may require that all the rights of an individual be delegated to their guardian. However, a limited guardianship may allow certain rights to be limited to removal or delegation such as: to marry, to vote, to personally apply for government benefits, to have a driver’s license, to travel, or to seek or retain employment. One of the most difficult tasks for a court is to decide whether to impose a full or limited guardianship, as impinging on someone’s personal life is devastating.

Another myth about guardianship is that it can only be accomplished by a court order. With proper planning there are other legal tools that can be used to delegate, transfer or limit guardianship rights. For example, in some instances advanced directives, pre-need guardianships, powers of attorney or living wills can be used to accomplish the same results as a court ordered guardianship.

Understanding the brave new world of guardianships and how to recommend or use them in your practice or day to day life is an essential part of any general practitioner or solo attorney’s tool box. I look forward to seeing you at the seminar to discuss more options!

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Rinky Parwani

Rinky Parwani is an attorney, GPSolo member, and a Thursday morning session speaker in Key West.