It can be difficult to think of the late stages of life when our once vibrant faculties are diminished or lost. It is no easy task to plan during the healthy years for a time when decision-making power is lost. The best practice is to create and regularly update a basic estate planning package with a will, power of attorney and health care directive.
But sometimes those important documents are lost, or the nominees named within are unavailable. When a health tragedy strikes that causes a property owner to become incapacitated, it becomes too late to sign a power of attorney. A person who is no longer competent to handle their legal affairs cannot nominate an attorney-in-fact no matter how serious a pending legal issue may be.
What can be done for a property owner facing a serious legal problem when the person is incapacitated and does not have a power of attorney?
Families caring for an incapacitated loved one without a valid power of attorney face a less than ideal situation. But there is a solution. Anyone concerned about the incapacitated person can seek a trial before a judge requesting a guardian be named.
A successful guardianship petition allows a guardian to make health care and legal decisions. Courts will often split those responsibilities among two individuals – one to care for the person (Guardian of the Person) and one to handle the legal and financial affairs (Guardian of the Estate).
Both types of guardians have serious responsibilities and a duty to use the property for the benefit of the incapacitated person. There are also many pitfalls that can create serious legal problems even for guardians who are well intentioned.
As a probate law firm for estate executors, we help settle estates efficiently and reduce stress. If you know someone faced with a probate process or roadblocks to an estate property sale, please have them contact us for a free evaluation at:
Phone: (215) 918-4242
If you are not quite ready for a consultation, download our probate handbook HERE. We’ll send you helpful probate guides and resources so you know how to handle the estate.