Adult Guardianship

Understand the court’s guardianship process

How to Protect Your House And Life Savings

A guardianship is the legal process used by the courts to appoint someone to make legal and financial decisions for people who cannot do it for themselves due to a physical or mental disability. If a guardian is appointed, the person subject to the guardianship loses the ability to make decisions for themselves for as long as they remain disabled. Because the person subject to the guardianship loses so many important rights, the court system has a specific process to make sure that the disabled person really needs a guardian, to ensure the right person is appointed as the guardian, and to require the guardian periodically reports their actions to the court so that the court can maintain oversight of the guardian’s decisions.

In the State of Maryland, a guardianship proceeding is an adversarial proceeding, meaning the person for whom the guardianship is sought (referred to as the “alleged disabled person”) can contest the loss of his or her rights and the choice of guardian being appointed. After the petition for guardianship is filed, the court will appoint an attorney to represent the alleged disabled person in the legal process. The alleged disabled person pays for this attorney from his or her bank accounts or other available funds. If the alleged disabled person does not consent to the imposition of the guardianship, they can have their case decided by a judge or a jury.

Planning in advance can prevent the need for a guardian. For example, if a person has executed a medical power of attorney that includes access to their otherwise confidential medical records and allows someone to make medical decisions for them, a guardianship may not be necessary. Similarly, a person may not need a guardian if they have executed a financial power of attorney to enable someone else to handle their finances.

Adult guardianships fall into two different categories, guardianships of the person and guardianships of the property. Some people may need one but not the other, some may need both. Normally, the appointed guardian is a family member or close friend of the disabled person, but there are times when the court appoints a neutral public guardian to fill this role when no one else is available.

A guardian of the person makes non-financial decisions about the disabled person. Common decisions involve medical care, where the person lives, and decisions that affect their day-to-day life. A guardian of the property makes financial issues for the disabled person, including issues related to banking, buying or selling property, paying bills, and filing income tax returns.

Having a guardian appointed is a significant event and has legal consequences for the disabled person. Persons under a guardianship lose the right to make their own medical decisions, control their own property, vote, get married, and form contracts. Because of the significant impact on the individual, courts always look for less restrictive alternatives to a guardianship. That is, if there is a way to take care of someone’s needs in a less restrictive way than guardianship, the court will choose the less restrictive way.

Contact the Chesapeake Wills and Trusts Team About Your Guardianship Needs

At Chesapeake Wills and Trusts, our team offers a wide range of high-quality estate planning services that can meet the needs of your entire family. We can help you create a comprehensive estate and asset protection plan, including the powers of attorney that will allow your loved ones to make financial and health care decisions on your behalf if you cannot.

We can help you understand guardianship, and how advanced planning can play a role in an overall strategy to give you peace of mind about your future and your family’s financial health. Call our Glen Burnie office today at 410-590-1900 or contact us online to discuss your needs with a member of our estate planning team.

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Estate Planning

Planning for your own end of life, or a situation where due to disability you are unable to manage your assets, isn’t exactly comfortable. However, putting off planning can lead to more stress for your loved ones and unnecessary uncertainty around what happens to your estate.

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Trusts

Trusts are an estate planning tool we often use for asset protection, for providing a plan for the management of your assets upon your disability, and to help our clients’ families avoid the Maryland probate process.

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Living Wills

A living will is a legal document that lays out what medical decisions you would like to be made in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes. This could include life-saving measures, pain management, organ donation, and more.

 

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Probate

Whether your loved one has a clear estate plan, or no plan at all, the probate process adds unneeded stress to your life during a difficult time. Not knowing how the courts will distribute your family member’s assets can feel scary.

We believe everyone deserves the time they need to grieve the loss of a loved one and probate shouldn’t get in the way.

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Adult Guardianship

A guardianship is the legal process used by the courts to appoint someone to make legal and financial decisions for people who cannot do it for themselves due to a physical or mental disability. If a guardian is appointed, the person subject to the guardianship loses the ability to make decisions for themselves for as long as they remain disabled.

Learn more about adult guardianship in Maryland.

Asset Protection

Creditors may come after your home if you file for bankruptcy or if they win a lawsuit against you. If you believe this may be a possibility, we can help you put an asset protection plan in place that protects your family home. We can explain to you how an irrevocable asset protection trust works, and what this means for making future decisions about your property.

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Last Will and Testament

A will, sometimes called a last will and testament, is a legal document that tells your family and the state your intentions for your assets after your death. We recommend all our clients draft a will. This is true no matter how small your estate or whether or not you use other estate planning tools to distribute your assets.

 

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Medicaid Crisis

A common misconception after a loved one enters a nursing home is it’s too late to protect their assets and they’ll have to spend their life savings before they can apply for Medicaid assistance.

It's not too late! Our Medicaid Crisis Lawyers can help you protect your loved one’s assets and work to make them Medicaid eligible even after they enter a nursing home.

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney grants another person the authority to make medical or financial decisions and act on your behalf. We create and use these legal documents for various purposes during the estate planning process, but the two most common are financial power of attorneys and health care power of attorneys.

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Chesapeake Care Plan

Even the best-laid plans change. Laws are always being updated and changed. People move, get married, get divorced, have kids, and any number of other changes.

We created The Chesapeake Care Plan to keep your plan up-to-date so it will work as intended when you need it most. Better yet, by enrolling in the program, you’ll get a wide range of services at a fraction of the cost of what you would pay for them separately.

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Elder Law

3 in 4 senior adults over the age of 65 will require long-term nursing care at some point in their life. Our Elder Law Lawyers offer estate planning, Medicaid crisis response, and other services to help senior adults plan ahead or respond to a crisis in health requiring nursing care.

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