Guardianship is a judicial proceeding in which a person or entity may be granted full or limited authority over an incapacitated and (or) underage individual to promote and protect their well being. 
There are many applications of guardianship that can be useful in estate-planning. While most people hear about guardianship with respect to children; there are many other life circumstances to consider when planning for the possibility of guardianship. 
Elderly Care is an important area when considering the quality of life that an individual will enjoy during their later years. In the event of a parent, spouse, or loved one's ever-decreasing facilities; a legal guardian can be an effective tool to help manage their health and(or) estate. 
Sudden & Unexpected Life Events can suddenly render a completely competent person into someone who lacks the proper facilities to care-for/manage their health and(or) estate. Proper planning can identify a qualified guardian; who upon such an event, would manage all of the necessary affairs to ensure quality of life. 
Individuals who care for Adult Loved-Ones with Special Needs should consider and plan for their continued support after the testators death. This is especially important where those needs require prudent management of money for specific services and(or) health management. 
There are two types of guardianship. A Guardianship of the Person is the management of an individuals care and custody. This is what most people envision when they speak about guardianship. A Guardianship of the Estate is the management of an individual's estate and financial affairs. Both forms of guardianship can be facilitated by the same person. However, a qualified attorney should help you walk through all of the factors and considerations before making such an important decision. 
In the absence of specific guardianship appointments, the State follows statutory (legal) appointment preferences that are designed to meet the best interest of the child and(or) incapacitated person. Those preferences, in order, are: 
  1. Surviving Spouse (for Incapacitated Adults); or Next Ascendant in the Direct Line - (for Children, however, a child at least 12 years of age, can (with court approval) determine their preferred guardian); 
  2. Next of Kin; then
  3. A Court Appointed (and Qualified) Individual. 
Inversely, if an individual establishes a guardianship appointment through a valid Will or Written Declaration; a court will prioritize that appointment if it is still in the best interest of the child and(or) incapacitated individual. 

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