Guardianships. Power of Attorney. Pooled Trusts.
Our Life with Dignity services offer options to parents or loved ones of the disabled adult. Our goal is to help you regain stability while minimizing loss — with financial matters and relationships.
Mental health issues present the most difficult obstacles when you’re trying to help a loved one. It’s easy, in these instances, to feel helpless and powerless. Your loved one is unable to make rational or logical decisions. You want to help, even if it’s only temporary.
We offer three tools that can offer assistance in this area.
Power of Attorney
Power of attorney is a proactive tool that most people think of being used when someone is on life support. However, it can be used in cases of dementia or psychosis if created before someone gets ill. Should the illness be rooted in a mental health nature then the power of attorney needs to include a mental health directive.
When clients need to assign Power of Attorney, Living Life With Dignity is a trusted partner. We serve as a representative for specific matters that our clients designate and authorize, having legal authority only in these specific, limited situations.
We are often asked to be a Power of Attorney for someone who does not have a trusted family member or friend to act on their behalf. This appointment is typically referred by an attorney who writes the document giving us the authorization. Our role is then “on hold” until the need arises.
Prior to the need, we take a comprehensive history and update it annually for changes.
As defined by the NGA: “Guardianship, also, referred to as conservatorship, is a legal process, utilized when a person can no longer make or communicate safe or sound decisions about his/her person and/or property or has become susceptible to fraud or undue influence. Because establishing a guardianship may remove considerable rights from an individual, it should only be considered after alternatives to guardianship have proven ineffective or are unavailable.“
Living Life with Dignity offers the assistance of knowledgeable, certified professional guardians who exceed the industry standards. We are deliberate, thorough and ethical advocates who prioritize our client’s best interests. Prior to making any legal decisions, we work with the family to ensure sensitive issues are thoughtfully considered and appropriately communicated.
Most often, family members are appointed as guardians. But when a loved one cannot fulfill this role or a family can’t decide who should fulfill the role or there is no one else, the court will appoint a corporate guardian or the public guardian.
Often an attorney will make a recommendation or a family can request a corporate guardian such as Living Life with Dignity. If there is no preference, the judge will usually appoint the public guardian, except in cases where the respondent (the one needing guardianship), does not meet the financial requirements.
Financial requirements in Illinois stipulate that there be funds of $25,000 or more. If there is less than $25,000, the Office of State guardian will be appointed.
If you’re looking for a successor guardian or have been appointed guardian for a loved one and aren’t sure of your responsibilities, we can help. We can either assist you through that process or help execute the many responsibilities that come with the appointment of guardianship.
For more information on guardianship, visit www.guardianship.org or www.illinoisguardianship.org (these will be links)
Becoming a guardian is a very serious responsibility. You are acting as a surrogate for the conservatee (the individual whose care you’ve been entrusted with) in all aspects of life as if they were capable. It does not allow you to impose your opinions but rather to act in his/her best interests.
There are several different types of guardian but the two most common are Guardian of the Person and Guardian of the Estate.
Guardian of the Person
The responsibilities of Guardian of the Person are:
- Determine and monitor residence
- Consent to and monitor medical treatment
- Consent and monitor non-medical services such as education and counseling
- Consent and release of confidential information.
- Make end-of-life decisions
- Act as representative payee
- Maximize independence in least restrictive manner
- Report to the court about the guardianship status at least annually
Guardian of the Estate
The responsibilities of Guardian of the Estate are:
- Marshall and protect assets
- Obtain appraisals of property
- Protect property and assets from loss
- Receive income for the estate
- Make appropriate disbursements
- Obtain court approval prior to selling any asset
- Report to the court or estate status. If you are considering either of these options, it is best that you seek out the assistance of an attorney that specializes in this area of law. If you need a recommendation, we are happy to assist.
When individuals need the protection of a legal guardian, we also can serve as court-appointed private guardians.
Pooled Trust (OBRA’93)
Why would you need a Pooled Trust?
The Pooled Trust provides parents, spouses, extended family members and guardians a solution that will protect assets without jeopardizing public assistance, medical benefits or legal settlements.
We partner with American Bank & Trust, as an independent co-trustee, to offer the Life with Dignity Pooled Trust – adding important value through advocacy, private guardianship, expert assistance and education.
We combine experience, expertise and ethics to help clients secure a financial plan for the future.