For adults and minors under legal guardianship, it is vital that any lapse in guardianship is minimized. For example, a guardian may become ill or otherwise unable to perform guardianship duties; or a guardian may pass away leaving family members unsure of what to do next. Here is a quick guide to help avoid and make sense of this difficult situation.
If a guardian is alive, but unable or unwilling to continue, then the court can change an existing guardianship order to appoint another person or add a co-guardian. Even if the guardian is willing to continue, they may want to add a co-guardian in case their health declines, making it difficult to perform guardianship duties.
If no guardianship order exists, the court can create one if petitioned. Depending on the type of guardianship desired, the urgency, and the complexity of the situation, hiring an attorney to guide you through this process can be valuable.
When a guardian dies, their Last Will & Testament is where a successor guardian is nominated. For this reason, it is vitally important that a guardian, especially a guardian of an adult with special needs, has a valid Will.
When deciding who to name as a successor guardian of an adult under legal guardianship, know that the guardian is not required to live with them. A good general rule is to not choose a successor guardian based on their age, as it is a good idea to review your estate plan every 4-5 years to make necessary updates. Most importantly, a successor guardian should be someone you trust to perform this crucial role.
In summary, if you are a guardian, it is important to take proactive steps to have a smooth transition to your successor. This includes carefully considering who should be your successor, and then nominating them in your Will. If you are in a position where a guardian needs to be appointed now, our office can help you navigate the court process required. Contact us to schedule a consultation.