ElderLaw News — The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. — MD, VA, DC
ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

The Role of Guardianships & Conservatorships in Today’s World

During  the recent Virginia Guardianship Association Conference (July 25, 2013),  the Honorable Gary A. Hicks, Presiding Judge of the Henrico Circuit Court, noted that the number of guardianships and conservatorships,  both contested and uncontested, have been on the rise. 

Such increase is likely the result of such things as increased life expectancies, changing family dynamics, the increasing role of third-party caregivers, community awareness of financial exploitation, and greater wealth accumulation.

A guardianship and conservatorship is a judicial proceeding whereby the court declares an adult to be incapacitated and in need of an agent to assist with personal and/or financial affairs. When assessing capacity, the court relies on the report of a medical professional and the guardian ad litem to determine whether an individual can meet the essential requirements for his health, care, safety, or therapeutic needs without the assistance or protection of a guardian. Also considered is the ability to manage property or financial affairs or provide for his support or for the support of his legal dependents without the assistance or protection of a conservator.

The good news is that current law requires the court to consider the availability of less restrictive alternatives to the appointment of a guardian and conservator. Such alternatives, which include, but are not limited to, powers of attorney and advance medical directives, are often  more cost-efficient and give deference to an individual’s choice of agent. However, the problem arises when these alternatives are defective – either not drafted to accommodate a need or the agent is unable to, unwilling to, or in breach of service.

While many people may feel that powers of attorney and advanced medical directives are just commodity documents, the provisions contained therein should be tailored to an individual's intent by an estate planning attorney. It is essential that your agent be aware that they are required by law to act in your best interest and under what conditions they may act. We advise our clients to take factors such as relationship, financial stability, involvement, organization, and ability to make decisions into consideration. It is also important that you understand the powers you are granting your agent.

While the number of guardianships and conservatorships appear to be increasing in number, with proper planning, you may be able to proactively protect your interests. Whether you need to have documents drafted, desire a review of your current estate planning documents, the attorneys of The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm invite you to contact them.

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If you are interested in having an Elder Law attorney from The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. speak at an event, then please call us at:

Maryland (301) 214-2229
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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C.

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. encourages you to share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in issues pertaining to the elderly, the disabled and their advocates. The information in this newsletter may be copied and distributed, without charge and without permission, but with appropriate citation to The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. If you are interested in a free subscription to the Elder Law News, then please e-mail us at office@chroniccareadvocacy.com, telephone us at (703) 243-3200, or fax us at 703-841-9102.

This newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this newsletter accurate, we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use of the information in this newsletter. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. thanks the law firm of Hook Law Center for their input to this newsletter.

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