Atlanta Attorney for Living Wills and Powers of Attorney
Robert M. Goldberg & Associates is here to help you with every aspect of planning for the future – including both the expected and the unexpected events that pave the path to your sunset years. While many people associate conservatorship or guardianship with children, this isn’t the case. Our team is happy to help all individuals explore their options, regardless of their age or situation. Contact us today to request your legal consultation.
What Is a Conservator or Guardian?
A conservator or guardian is defined as a person who is legally responsible for someone who is unable to manage their own assets and affairs. Adults who become incapacitated after an illness, injury, or aging may need a conservator or guardian to make decisions on their behalf. Our Atlanta elder law firm can help you navigate the legal landscape of guardianship and conservatorship, giving you the assurance you need that your best interests or those of your loved one are placed first.
Are There Differences Between a Guardian and a Conservator?
Although guardians and conservators are often discussed together, each party has very distinct duties and responsibilities. Generally, a guardian is a caregiver appointed to make decisions regarding a person’s general welfare and well-being. Guardians are responsible for the ward’s medical care, education, welfare, place of residence, and support.
On the other hand, the conservator is responsible for making financial decisions on someone else’s behalf. He or she may pay bills and other debts, file taxes on the ward’s behalf, handle his or her investments, and even create a budget for the ward to follow.
How Do I Appoint a Conservator or Guardian?
If you are interested in appointing a conservator or guardian, it is important to work with an attorney who can guide you through the process and help you comply with various legal requirements. To appoint a conservator or guardian in Georgia, two petitioners will need to file a petition in the probate court where the person to be placed under the arrangement, known as the ward, is living.
The probate court will review the petition and determine whether the guardianship or conservatorship meets the requirements set by Georgia law. A social worker, physician, or psychologist may be appointed by the court to conduct an assessment of the proposed ward. If the court believes that the conservatorship or guardianship is valid, it will enter an order and the conservator or guardian will need to take an oath.
When an adult needs a conservator for their finances or a guardian over their person, then proceedings must happen in probate court. At Robert M. Goldberg & Associates, we help you navigate this complicated process, help you fulfill your obligations as a conservator or guardian, or find an alternative to taking on the conservator or guardian role. With more than 20 years of specialized experience, we would be delighted to use our knowledge and expertise to help you reach the best possible outcome.
Pros and Cons of Selecting a Guardian or Conservator
Conservatorships and guardianships each come with their own advantages. For example, conservatorships provide a higher degree of protection than alternative mechanisms. Additionally, conservatorships offer a structured method to protect someone who is incapacitated but does not want assistance. Guardianships also offer stability during a period of incapacitation and protect the ward from potential exploitation.
However, there are some disadvantages to these arrangements. It can take a long time and a lot of legal paperwork to establish these relationships and duties. The ward loses much of his or her independence and is no longer able to make decisions on his or her behalf.
This is why it is important to work with an attorney to work out the details of this arrangement. An attorney can help you and your loved one appoint a trusted individual to act as conservator or guardian and draft a petition that protects the ward’s medical, social, financial, and physical needs.
Are There Alternatives to Guardianship and Conservatorship?
A guardianship or conservatorship is not the right decision for everyone. In some cases, you may want to explore additional options for situations where you may become incapacitated. Some of these alternatives include:
- Power of Attorney: A Power of Attorney is a legal document that designates a person to make decisions on your behalf. There are two types of Power of Attorney: individuals who are authorized to make financial decisions; and individuals who are authorized to make medical decisions. There are multiple requirements that you will need to meet to establish Power of Attorney, including notarization.
- Incapacity Plan: We can become unexpectedly incapacitated at any time. In these situations, you may want a plan in place that details what to do if this event occurs. An incapacity plan can help you prepare for temporary or permanent incapacity; this plan includes essential documents for financial and healthcare management.
- Advance Healthcare Directives: Also known as a living will, this document is invoked when you become severely ill or incapacitated. The advance healthcare directive specifies what types of medical care you should receive if you are no longer able to make decisions on your own. You can leave instructions for medical treatment as well as specify end-of-life care decisions.
There are alternatives, and we would be happy to help you explore those that may be best suited for your specific situation. For example, our team assists anyone who needs to create an incapacity plan, a Power of Attorney (POA), or Advanced Healthcare Directives as an alternative to conservatorship or guardianship. We also help those who are seeking a conservator or guardian for their loved one.
Why You Need an Atlanta Guardianship & Conservatorship Attorney
Making conservatorship or guardianship decisions can be challenging. You want to ensure that your rights are protected and that you choose the best person to make decisions on your behalf. Most importantly, you want to establish enough safeguards to ensure that you or your loved ones do not get taken advantage of by unscrupulous actors.
Whether you are applying to be a guardian or conservator or are becoming a ward yourself, you need an attorney who can protect your best interests and inform you and your loved ones of your rights.
By hiring an Atlanta guardianship and conservatorship attorney from Goldberg & Associates, you gain access to an advocate who can streamline the process. Hiring a guardianship and conservatorship attorney can provide several benefits to your case:
- Preparing the Petition: Your attorney can help you prepare the initial petition for the guardianship and conservatorship. This process can be complex, but he or she can help you meet all legal requirements and deadlines.
- Providing Guidance for Financial Matters: Many cases involving guardianship and conservatorship require in-depth knowledge of the ward’s financial situation. Your lawyer can help you identify all possible assets and determine the estimated value of those assets.
- Representing You During the Hearing: Guardianship and conservatorship cases are often decided in a hearing in front of a judge. Your attorney can represent you during these proceedings and argue to protect your best interests.
- Understanding Changing Laws: Like many areas of law, rules around guardianships and conservatorships are subject to change. Your attorney will keep up to date on these rules and provide you with relevant, timely advice as you proceed through your case.
- Gathering Medical Documents: For guardianship cases, you may need to gather important medical documents like doctor’s certifications and treatment records. Your attorney can help you collect this information, alleviating the stress and burden of the process.
- Advising You on Alternate Options: As discussed earlier, guardianships and conservatorships are not the ideal option for every person. Your attorney will be knowledgeable of different alternatives and help you find the best pathway for you.
Need a Guardianship Attorney or Living Will in Atlanta?
We would love to help you. Call us today to learn more about our services, as well as to set up your consultation. We help you move forward in your conservatorship or guardianship situation with confidence.