An important aspect of estate planning is making sure that loved ones are cared for after you pass away. This is especially important if you have beneficiaries who are disabled or need additional guidance because of mental health issues. Whether they are children or are young adults over the age of 18, there are a number of ways to protect their interests. This post will briefly highlight guardianships and conservatorships.
Guardianships At their core, guardianships are legally established relationships that allow a person to make decisions on behalf of a person who needs protection; either because they have not reached the age of majority (i.e. age 18) or they have some mental disability or other issue that prevents them from making decisions on their own.
A guardian can help a disabled person make critical decisions, or they may appointed to make such decisions on the persons behalf. The extent of the guardianship can be negotiated and adjusted over time.
Conservatorships A conservator is a person who is appointed to manage the financial aspects of a person in need of protection. With a fiduciary duty to maintain assets and keep a detailed accounting of expenditures, a conservator can make sure that a vulnerable person is not taken advantage of by unscrupulous creditors and family members.
Special needs trusts Aside from appointing people to protect a vulnerable person, a special needs trust can also help in making sure such a person has the money available to ensure that he or she can afford care.
If you have additional questions about protecting special needs children and other vulnerable adults, an experienced attorney can help.