Eventually, everyone will need someone to help care for them and to help them make important life decisions as they get older. Even elite athletes and super healthy people have to plan and prepare for every outcome to ensure they are able to maintain the same quality of life as they age and to protect their rights and assets in the event they can no longer make important life decisions. The same goes for you and your loved ones.

The range of options for being a guardian and protecting the rights of your loved ones include:

  • Full Guardianship
  • Guardian Advocacy
  • Limited Guardianship/Limited Guardian Advocacy
  • Advanced Directives
  • Trusts
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Representative Payee
  • Joint Bank Account

Need help selecting a guardianship option for your family?

Read the following article or click here now to request a consultation with Guardianship Attorney Lisa DiFranza in Jacksonville, FL.

guardianship pyramid

The Guardianship Options

When you are the legal guardian of an adult, it means you have some level of legal authority to make decisions for that person after they turn 18 years old. These are the commonly used ways to legally help protect your loved one’s rights and their assets:

  • Full Guardianship – To be someone’s guardian, you must be legally appointed by the Courts. With full guardianship, similar to when a child is under the age of 18, you will continue to make the same decisions related to medical treatment, property, and finances. Because this process can be long and expensive, it is best to work with an experienced attorney like Lisa DiFranza who can help guide you through the process.
  • Guardian Advocacy – Guardian Advocacy offers the same protection as Guardianship but doesn’t require a capacity hearing and will only remove the rights that the person cannot manage on their own. This is also an area where DiFranza Law can help.
  • Advanced Directives – An advanced directive is a way for your loved one to legally document how they want to instruct healthcare professionals to provide medical care and what to do with the records. This has no impact on property and financial decisions. DiFranza Law can help you document your advanced directives. For more on advanced directives and living wills, click here.
  • Trusts – Trusts are a way to control ownership of property and money. Since there are multiple types of trusts including first party and third-party trusts that can affect the eligibility of government benefits, it is best to speak with an attorney like DiFranza Law to determine which type of trust is best for your loved one.
  • Durable Power of Attorney – If the individual can understand what they are signing, a durable power of attorney is an option available to allow you to make the decisions for your loved one without removing any of their rights. It is both quick and inexpensive. There are some concerns with a durable power of attorney including the fact that it can be revoked at any time, it doesn’t require court oversight, and it may not be honored. If you think this is the right option for you, DiFranza Law can assist you with drafting a Durable Power of Attorney.
  • Representative Payee – As a representative payee, you would receive the person’s government benefits and then you would distribute the benefits on behalf of your loved one for the benefit of your loved one. All representative payees are responsible for accounting for how the money is spent. DiFranza Law can work with you to further explain the reporting process if you think this option is right for your loved one.
  • Joint Bank Account – While this option has some benefits including requiring two signatures and rights of survivorship, a joint bank account doesn’t prevent a person from signing a contract or entering into a lease or other financial document. For someone that is no longer able to make their own financial decisions due to illness or incapacity, this option offers very little protection. It could also compromise their ability to get government benefits.

Get Help with Guardianship

If you need help selecting a guardianship option that’s right for you and your loved one, click here to request a consultation with Guardianship Attorney Lisa DiFranza in Jacksonville, FL.