As an elder law attorney, I make a living representing people in obtaining guardianship over their elderly parents or family members. But guardianships can be avoided in most cases by one simple thing – A Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney establishes the legal basis for someone to act on behalf of another person if and when they become disabled. A Power of Attorney is a very simple document to prepare at a fraction of the cost of a guardianship. Without a Power of Attorney in place, there is no legal authority for one person to act on behalf of another person. This is true even in the case of a married couple were assets are owned in individual names.
However, a Power of Attorney can only be executed while a person is competent to do so. Once a person becomes disabled to the point they no longer have the legal capacity to sign a Power of Attorney, then a guardianship may be the only choice.
I represent hundreds of people in developing their estate plan and in all cases, I recommend they execute a Power of Attorney as a way of avoiding the need for a guardianship in the future. A Power of Attorney is the cheapest form of insurance you will even encounter!