As a Georgia guardianship lawyer, I often in our Atlanta, GA, Buckhead and Midtown law offices we receive calls from distressed family members wanting to establish a guardianship for a loved one. Of course, many guardianships are established for young adults because of mental deficiencies or unfortunate accidents; but, the greater number of adult guardianships are established for elderly family members.
Unfortunately, most people wait until a family crisis has occurred before they decide to investigate the options that are available to them. The ideal time to speak with an attorney would be before an individual is incapacitated, in a hospital, in a coma, unable to care for themselves, suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, or their bills are remaining unpaid. When a person is deemed to lack sufficient capacity to make or communicate significant responsible decisions concerning his or her health or safety, it is time for that person’s friends or family to take the appropriate action to protect their loved one.
The initiation of a guardianship is not only an expensive proceeding but it is a very emotional time for both family and friends. Many times hard feelings are made not only by the proposed ward but also by other family members and the ward’s friends.
Although the circumstances surrounding the need to establish a guardianship vary, the procedure remains the same. In Georgia the Court requires that a petition be brought by either one petitioner and a physician, psychologist, or licensed clinical social worker, who will submit an evaluation of the proposed ward based upon an examination within fifteen days prior to the filing of the petition; or two petitioners.
If the Court accepts the petition, it will assign a physician, psychologist, or licensed clinical social worker to evaluate the proposed ward and file their report with the Court and a hearing will be set.
Many times at the hearing, if the Court learns that the proposed ward has already put in place advanced directives and upon their review the Court rules that these directives can accomplish basically the same needs of the proposed ward as a guardian would be able to; then the Court will dismiss the guardianship proceedings because the need for a guardian will not be met.
Adults who have utilized the services of The Libby Law Firm have executed advanced directives such as a General Power of Attorney, a Power of Attorney for Healthcare, and a Living Will. The advanced directives are documents that we all hope we will never have to use, but it is good to know they are in place in the event they are needed. Unlike a Last Will and Testament, which is used after a person has deceased; advanced directives are come into play when an individual is incapacitated and can be used by the named attorney-in-fact or healthcare surrogate to take care of the individual during the time of their incapacity; allowing them to take care of such things as the incapacitated person’s financial matters as well as consulting with physicians and medical personal and making health care decisions for them.
Another advanced directive form that might be provided by an estate planning attorney is a Pre-Need Guardian Designation. This document allows a person to name someone whom they trust as the person they wish to be appointed by the Court should the need to establish a guardianship for them arise.
The utilization of an estate planning attorney to review your estate plan past, present and future and the creation of the appropriate advance directives naming the individuals that you wish to take care of you and your affairs should you become incapacitated, is not only a cost effective measure; but provides peace of mind for you and your family.
Should you have any questions or desire any assistance, our Firm welcomes the opportunity to be of service to you. Please feel free to call our Firm (404) 467-8611 to discuss your options. You can also send us a message through our confidential Web Site form. The Libby Law Firm is conveniently located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, GA near the intersection of Piedmont and Roswell Roads.