Guardianship in Estate Planning: Safeguard Your Loved Ones
When it comes to the well-being of your children and your assets, making the right choices is paramount. Discover how estate planning and guardianship solutions can provide peace of mind for parents, as we guide you through the process of securing your loved ones’ future and your financial legacy.
If you are new to estate planning or would like to deepen your understanding of the best way to provide for your loved ones, register for one of our free estate planning seminars to learn the ins and outs of estate planning by the professional estate planners at Craig Associates, PC, or give us a call at (828) 258-2888 for an initial case evaluation.
- Why choose us?
Why choose us?
Don’t take our word for it, here’s what actual clients in your community have to say:
I hired Craig Associates PC after my husband and I had a health scare that made us aware of the importance of estate planning. I decided Craig Associates PC was the right firm for me because I saw the level of specialization they have and knew I would be making the right choice. What I liked most about Craig Associates PC was they provided distance communication via online video conference. Their paralegal was skilled, knowledgeable and personable. She made herself available for questions and never seemed bothered. Lastly, during the signing process Chris answered many questions and explained everything in a way that was very clear. The outcome of this case was that we have estate planning legal documents that meet all our desires thoroughly and accurately. We feel confident that when the time comes our family will be provided for. As a result of this outcome, both my husband and I no longer need to worry about what will happen when the inevitable time comes.Laura B. | Asheville, NC
Common lingo for estate planning and guardianship matters.
Ward: A person, often a minor or incapacitated individual, who is placed under the protection of a legal guardian within the context of estate planning and guardianship matters.
Conservator: An appointed individual who manages the finances of a minor or an incapacitated person who is incapable of doing so themselves.
Property: In estate planning and guardianship, this term refers to the tangible and intangible assets of a ward that a guardian or conservator is responsible for managing.
Duties: The responsibilities or tasks that a guardian or conservator must fulfill for the ward’s benefit, including managing health, education, property, and financial affairs.
Law Office: The legal firm or attorney involved in handling legal estate planning and guardianship matters.
Minor Ward: A minor who is placed under the care of a guardian determined in the estate planning and guardianship process.
Protected Person: Another term for a ward, an individual under the guardianship or conservatorship due to incapacity or minority.
Reporting Requirements: Legal obligations for guardians or conservators to regularly provide updates or documentation on the ward’s wellbeing and property management.
Medical Care: Part of the health care responsibilities of a guardian, outlined in estate planning and guardianship documents, focused on ensuring appropriate medical treatment for the ward.
Personal Effects: Tangible personal property that a guardian is responsible for managing as part of a ward’s estate.
Elder Law: A legal field focusing on issues affecting the elderly, including estate planning, guardianship, and conservatorship (Elder Law Conference)
Conservatorship: The legal process where a judge appoints a conservator to manage an incapacitated person’s or minor’s personal and/or financial affairs.
Fidelity: A principle implying faithfulness and loyalty, critical for guardians and conservators in fulfilling their duties in estate planning and guardianship matters
Custody: In guardianship terms, it refers to the legal responsibility a guardian has over a ward’s personal and/or property affairs.
Fiduciaries: Individuals, like guardians or conservators, who are obligated to act in the best interest of another person or entity.
Legal Guardians: Individuals appointed by a court to manage the personal and/or property affairs of a ward in their best interest.
Geriatric Medicine: A branch of medicine focused on health care for elderly people, relevant in estate planning when discussing the health care responsibilities of guardians.
Wealth Management: An aspect of estate planning and guardianship, dealing with the structured management of a ward’s finances and property.
What is Estate Planning and Guardianship?
Estate planning services ensure your wealth is preserved, your loved ones are provided for, and minor children or special needs adults are taken care of per your wishes upon your death. An estate plan generally includes legal documents such as:
- Will: Wills specify how your assets are distributed after your death, who will administer your estate, and who will care for any minor children.
- Trust: Trusts (Revocable or Irrevocable) can protect and manage your assets, reduce taxes, and distribute your assets without the need for probate.
- Power of attorney (POA): Powers of attorney (POAs) allows a chosen representative to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
- Healthcare directive: Healthcare directives outline your medical treatment preferences should you become incapacitated.
A professional estate planner will guide you through the steps for estate planning and guardianship to ensure your dependents are provided for when you’re no longer around to see to it yourself.
Understanding Estate Planning and Guardianship
A guardian is someone who has been legally appointed to care for a child(ren) under the age of 18 or an adult(s) who lacks the ability to care for themselves, and there are different types of guardianships depending on the needs of the person needing care.
There are 3 types of guardianship:
- Guardian of the person – This type of guardian takes care of the individual in their charge.
- Guardian of the estate – This guardian oversees the financial and commercial interests of the ward and manages the assets and the settlement of financial obligations.
- General guardian – This guardian makes decisions that would normally fall under the responsibilities of both the guardian of the person and the guardian of the estate.
Choosing the right guardian for your children is a critical decision, as the guardian is responsible for making personal, financial, and healthcare decisions until they become adults or indefinitely if a disabled dependent needs life-long support.
How to implement Estate Planning and Guardianship
After determining the guardian for your children, you’ll file a petition with the court, and if approved, the court will issue an order of appointment.
Estate Planning and Guardianship Laws
Estate planning and guardianship laws vary by state and can have significant impacts on the degree and extent to which you can control the distribution of your estate and the guardianship provisions for your dependents. Hiring a professional estate planning attorney can ensure your estate planning and guardianship preferences are legally sound, and you have peace of mind knowing nothing was overlooked.
Reviewing and Updating Estate Planning and Guardianship Preference
Life is full of ups and downs, and changes in your family dynamic or financial situation mean you’ll need to review your estate planning and guardianship preferences. Regularly reviewing and updating estate planning and guardianship designations ensures that they stay relevant and meet your current wishes. Changes in the guardian’s or the child’s circumstances should also trigger a review.
Estate Planning and Guardianship FAQs
1. What happens if there are no estate planning and guardianship provisions in place?
Without estate planning and guardianship, state law dictates the distribution of your hard-earned assets. The probate court is often time-consuming and costly, and will not likely align with your personal wishes or the best interests of the dependents involved.
2. Can I alter estate planning and guardianship documents?
Absolutely. You can amend estate planning and guardianship documents at any point during your lifetime. Many clients modify their documents to reflect changes in financial status, familial relationships, or laws.
3. Who can assume the role of a legal guardian?
You can choose any competent adult—usually a family member or close friend your children are familiar with—to become a legal guardian. That said, courts select legally valid guardians based on the best interests of the children or an incapacitated adult.
4. Is it necessary to hire a lawyer for estate planning and guardianship?
It’s not mandatory, but hiring an attorney for estate planning and guardianship matters prevents potential legal consequences of DIY estate plans or, worse, leaving vulnerable loved ones in limbo while the courts decide what’s best for them.
Let us help you navigate Estate Planning and Guardianship in Asheville
We understand that planning for the unthinkable is challenging: our estate planners have over 18 years of experience creating estate plans that prioritize the well-being of the family members left behind, so you don’t have to bear the burden alone. Call the Craig Associates, PC office at (828) 258-2888 so we can help you sleep a little better at night.