As part of estate planning, all individuals should execute a health care power of attorney. A health care power of attorney designates who the individual would like to make health care decisions for him or her when he or she is no longer competent to make the decisions. In instances where an individual who has been adjudged incompetent did not execute a health care power of attorney, his or her family members will need a guardianship in order to make medical decisions on the person’s behalf.

As a recent article explains, a guardianship is an arrangement under which the court designates a person to make financial or medical decisions for a person who has been adjudged incompetent. A court may give one person power over medical and financial decisions, or may designate a “guardian of the estate,” who controls the persons property, and a “guardian of the person,” who controls all other decision-making.

If a court must appoint a guardian, it is free to select a family member, friend, private professional, or organization. A person cannot control the decision of who becomes his or her guardian. It is therefore vital to execute a health care and financial power of attorney so you don’t run the risk of having a person appointed that you would not have selected.

If you execute various power of attorney documents, be sure you discuss your designations with the individual(s) so they know what to expect. It is important to be clear that they understand your wishes.

For assistance in executing power of attorney documents or seeking a guardianship, contact us at (626) 696-3145.

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