Incapacity and Guardianships
The incapacity of a loved one is difficult to come to terms with, but there are ways to assist this individual through several types of guardianship. People are considered to be incapacitated if they cannot exercise one or more of their rights for themselves. Common causes of incapacity are dementia (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s), brain injuries (head trauma, anoxia), developmental disabilities (autism, retardation), and youth under the age of 18 unable to contract on their own.
Not all individuals that are incapacitated need a guardianship. In fact, courts will try to find another alternative to protect the person, and allow them some liberty. If the individual is still capable to a certain extent, he or she could appoint a relative/friend as a Power of Attorney or Health Care Surrogate or they may ask for a Voluntary Guardianship.
If the person is completely incapacitated, but has done estate planning, only a determination of incapacity is required. If the person never signed any estate papers, guardianship may be the only alternative. Common guardianships include voluntary guardianships, determination of incapacity, emergency temporary guardianship, guardian advocacy and guardianship of a minor.