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How to protect the elderly, children and other vulnerable people

While we focus most of our estate planning posts on protecting assets and preparing beneficiaries for transfers of wealth, it is also important to focus on protecting those loved ones who are vulnerable. They may include elderly family members who have grown accustomed to handling things on their own, or young people with mental health or physical disabilities.

Essentially, if a caregiver passes away or is no longer able to provide such care, there are a number of things that can be done to protect people who are used to being cared for. This post will focus two important steps that, in some cases, can work together. 

Conservatorships – These are relationships developed through a court order which gives a person (conservator) the legal authority to manage another person’s money and property, and to make decisions on their behalf. A conservator also has a fiduciary duty to maintain a detailed account of all the person’s expenditures, to ensure that a vulnerable person is meeting their financial obligations and not being taken advantage of.

Guardianships – Similar to conservatorships,  guardianships are developed so that an adult can make decisions on behalf of a minor child or a person who has not reached the age of majority (i.e. age 18), or a person who does not have the mental capacity to enter a contract or make important financial decisions on their own.  

If you have questions about how these relationships work or how a court order is obtained to establish them, an experienced estate planning attorney can answer them.

The preceding is not legal advice. 

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