The primary goal of estate planning is to ensure that your loved ones are cared for after you pass away. This is especially important if those you care for have special needs, and you (or a spouse or sibling) are the primary caretaker. These loved ones could be young children or even adults with physical or mental disabilities.
Nevertheless, there are a few ways to protect their interests in the event you are no longer able to do so. This post will identify two important ways of doing so.
Guardianships – A guardianship allows one person to make decisions on behalf of a person because of their lack of mental faculties that prevents them from making decisions on their own, or because the person who needs care has not reached the age of majority and legally cannot enter into contracts. Because of this, most guardianships are assigned to grant an adult the ability to care for a child where there may not be a biological relationship.
Conservatorships – This is where a person is appointed by the court to manage the financial affairs of someone who needs assistance or protection; commonly because the person’s mental capacities prevent them from doing so on their own. A conservator must follow strict rules regarding fiduciary duty; meaning that they must keep a detailed accounting of the person’s finances and treat them as if they were his or her own. Ultimately, the conservator must protect the vulnerable person’s finances from creditors and other family members alike.
If you have additional questions about protecting children and special needs adults through your estate plan, an experienced attorney can help.