Guardians are appointed to protect people who are not able to make competent decisions on their own. The person who has been placed under the authority of a guardian is known as a ward. This could be a minor child or an incapacitated adult. In New Hampshire and Maine, there are two types of guardianship: a “guardian of the person” manages the ward’s personal affairs while a “guardian of the estate” manages the ward’s financial affairs.
A guardian’s authority can be limited or broad. For example, in addition to making general personal and health care decisions, a guardian of the person may be authorized to determine whether the ward can have visitors, attend social gatherings, get married, and more. Similarly, the guardian of the estate can have limited or broad authority. The extent of the guardian’s authority falls under the purview of the court.
Without proper planning, the court will appoint a guardian of the person and a guardian of the estate. This could be someone you would not have wanted to make important decisions for your minor children or for yourself in the event of incapacity. Furthermore, the guardianship process can be expensive and take a very long time. It is not unusual for family disputes to arise over who should be named guardian, leading to hard feelings that can last a lifetime.
At Cocheco Elder Law Associates, PLLC, we can use a number of strategies and tools to avoid a guardianship proceeding, including powers of attorney, living wills, trusts, and in the case of minors, naming a guardian in a last will and testament. However, if you are currently faced with a guardianship proceeding involving a minor or an incapacitated loved one, you do not have to go through the process alone. We can guide you every step of the way and protect your interests as well as the interests of your loved one. We invite you to contact us for a personal meeting with our Dover guardianship attorney.