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Alternatives To Guardianship

There are numerous alternatives to guardianship. Many require prior planning, which should be done well before the individual's capacity becomes an issue. Perhaps the most important of these alternatives is a durable power of attorney. Under a durable power of attorney, an individual designates another as agent to make decisions when or should the individual no longer be able to do so. Durable powers of attorney may be used for property management and for making health and personal-care decisions.

Another planned alternative is a revocable trust, often referred to as a living trust. Under this device an individual transfers his or her assets to a trustee, who holds and administers them as provided in the trust document. Most commonly the individual will act as his or her own trustee until such time as he or she is no longer able to manage the property, at which time a designated successor trustee will assume the responsibility.

Some alternatives do not require prior planning. A representative payee may be named to manage Social Security benefits. Many states have enacted health-care consent statutes allowing family members to make medical decisions for an incapacitated relative. A variety of social services, including assisted living, respite care, and financial counseling may be available to lessen an individual's need to have someone else make decisions. Before initiating the detailed procedure required to secure appointment of a guardian, all alternatives should be explored.


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Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaPregnancy & ParenthoodGuardianship - Types Of Guardianship, Guardianship Of Minors, Guardianship Of Adults, Alternatives To Guardianship