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Navigating Complex Guardianship Issues

A guardianship is sometimes necessary to protect an incapacitated adult or a minor child. The guardianship is established through the probate court and is initiated through the filing of a petition by an interested person. The court can appoint a guardian for the person and a guardian for the estate of a person or both. The same person can serve as guardian of the estate and guardian of the person. The court appointed guardian makes decisions for the incapacitated person or the minor, as the case may be. If an incapacitated adult has signed a General Durable Power of Attorney and a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care prior to their incapacity, then there is generally no need for a guardianship. However, there are some financial institutions that will not honor such documents if they are stale or outdated and there is no option but to petition the court for guardianship in such a situation. So it is best to update Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care documents every two to three years if you have these documents.

Minor children (under eighteen) are not allowed to manage their financial and personal affairs and therefore a guardianship is required. Children sometimes inherit property from a grandparent or relative with no trustee named to manage it for them. In such instances the parents, even though they are the parents, cannot manage the inheritance without first being appointed guardians by the court.

Howie Law Office has many years of experience in both guardianship of incapacitated adults and guardianship of minors. We prepare and file the necessary documents with the court, attend hearings and prepare reports and accountings that the court requires the guardian to file annually.

The information provided herein is for general purposes only and does not purport to give specific advice on individual matters. If you want individual advice, contact Mary Howie, an Elder Law and Estate Planning attorney practicing in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Attorney Howie also holds a master’s degree in business administration and finance. Call her at 603-893-8008.