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You are a Legal Guardian, Now What Do You Do?

The majority of the pages on this website are about the importance of setting up and creating your own estate plan to make sure that you have provided for yourself and for your loved ones. However a number of our clients come to us because of someone else's estate planning. In some instances, we have individuals come to us who have been named as a legal guardian in someone else's estate plan. These clients need help in figuring out what it is they are supposed to do as a legal guardian.

Our team of premier Idaho estate planning attorneys has assisted clients in all of their estate planning needs for over 70 years. We have helped several legal Guardians learn about their responsibilities and duties and have help them complete what they are required to do. Our team consists of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of the attorneys on our team has experience helping legal Guardians both understand and then carry out their responsibilities. The attorneys on our team are knowledgeable, skilled, and most importantly experienced in helping individuals in all Idaho estate planning matters including guardianships.

If you are a legal guardian for another individual there are some specific things that you need to understand. The purpose of this webpage is to give you some guidance and some assistance. However, you will get the most guidance and experience by talking to a qualified Idaho estate planning attorney who can answer all your questions and can help give you direction in what it is you need to do. Here are some basic things that may help you now that you are a legal guardian.

Named or Appointed

The starting place, and the most important thing for you to understand is whether you were actually "named" as a legal guardian or whether you were "appointed" as a legal guardian. The reason for this is because it will help you understand what your duties and responsibilities are.

An individual who is "named" as a guardian such as through a durable power of attorney document has far more freedom and far fewer restrictions than an individual who is appointed. A person is usually named as a legal guardian in an estate planning document such as a last will and testament or a durable power of attorney. When this occurs, the document naming that individual usually contains all the instructions, duties, responsibilities, restrictions, and options that are available to the individual. This is the simplest and easy way for a legal guardianship to arise because it does not involve any Court proceedings. When this occurs, we usually sit down with our client and review the legal documents where the guardianship was created. In doing so we can provide specific guidance and instruction to the guardian about what it is they need to do from that point forward.

Alternatively, an individual who is "appointed" as a legal guardian is going to be treated much differently. An appointment as a legal guardian is a proceeding which takes place in court. This can be done either by the individual petitioning to be appointed as the legal guardian or having another individual nominate them to be the legal guardian. Regardless, an appointment requires a court to enter an order that specifically designates that individual as the legal guardian for the another individual. Once a person is appointed as a legal guardian they usually have reporting requirements that must be done every year to provide an update and report to the court who made the appointment. This report usually requires and accounting of all finances and monies, properties, and other assets that belong to the individual over whom the guardianship was created.

Guardian for Minors

If you are a legal guardian for a minor your responsibilities will be far different than they will be for an individual who is an adult. If you are a legal guardian for a minor, you will be required to care for that child as if they were your own. This means you will be responsible for all their expenses, healthcare, education, and upbringing. If the child gets into trouble or does something wrong such as breaking laws, the legal guardian can be held responsible for their actions.

A legal guardianship for a minor only comes to an end when the minor reaches the age of adulthood, which in Idaho is the age of 18. It is possible for you to be a legal guardian for several minor aged children. The guardianship for each child will last until they each individually become an adult. So, if you are a legal guardian for several children, the guardianship may end for the older children earlier than it does for the younger ones.

Guardian for Adults

If you are a legal guardian for an adult, you will have several additional responsibilities that you wouldn't have for a minor aged child. Usually, adults have money, property, and assets that must be cared for. Also, adults usually have creditors that must be dealt with as well. Essentially, if you are a legal guardian for an adult, you are given legal authority to step into their shoes and the act as if you were them. This is what gives you the ability to deal with financial institutions such as banks, and to take care of and deal with creditors as well.

A legal guardianship for an adult only comes to an end when the guardian resigns or when the person over whom the guardianship is given, passes away. It is possible for a person who is serving as a legal guardian for an adult to serve in this capacity for much longer than it would be if you were a legal guardian for a minor. This is true because of individuals living longer now than they ever had before. Additionally, disabilities and incapacity such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia caused from other injuries and illnesses are becoming more and more frequent.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning and Probate Attorney to Help You

Our experienced Estate Planning team of attorneys can help you and your family with your Idaho estate plan or with your probate needs. Whether you are seeking your own customized Estate Plan or need a Probate for a loved one who has passed, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation with the Racine Olson team. You can also email us directly at racine@racinelaw.net. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning and Probate problems.

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