Consider getting your financial and healthcare powers of attorney in place.
Many people are proactive and execute durable powers of attorney well before incapacity becomes an issue. In most cases, having these documents in place will make it unnecessary for the court to appoint a guardian or conservator (a court-supervised person to administer an individual’s affairs).
Sometimes, a conservatorship or guardianship is necessary even when there are durable powers of attorney in place. For example, the agent appointed, or the attorney-in-fact, may be unable or unwilling to act or is disqualified from acting due to wrong-doing; the person who has become incapacitated may be a threat to himself or others; or the incapacitated person’s family may not be able to agree on who should be making decisions, or may not agree with the decisions that are being made. In situations such as these, the appointment of a conservator or guardian by the court may be appropriate. (A Guide to Elder Law Practice, 2007 Timothy L Takacs.)
If the court determines that a conservator is needed, Idaho Code § 15-5-410 for conservators list the persons entitled for consideration in the following order:
- an individual nominated by the incapacitated person in a financial power of attorney;
- the spouse of the incapacitated person;
- an adult child of the incapacitated person;
- a parent of the incapacitated person; or
- any relative of the incapacitated person with whom he or she has resided six months prior to the filing of the petition.
The court may disregard this order of priority or designate any other person, if it determines it is in the best interest of the incapacitated person.
There are advantages and disadvantages to having a court-appointed conservator or guardian:
- Advantage: Guardians and conservators are supervised by the court. Annual accountings must be turned into the court by the guardian and conservator.
- Disadvantages: Guardianships and conservatorships are expensive—with court costs, visitor, and attorney’s fees.
In conclusion, planning allows you to have a say in the important decisions affecting your life. In our website listed below, you can view our booklet called; “A Senior’s Guide to a Well-Planned Future” or if you are interested, you could stop by our office and pick one up. This booklet details what you need to have in place to be prepared in case of incapacity.
Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.