Our Abington, Pennsylvania Attorneys Assist You when Guardianship and Conservatorships Are Needed
If you have a loved one who is elderly or suffers from chronic, debilitating health conditions or mental health issues, you may have concerns about their ability to care for themselves or make decisions regarding their finances. At Egbert & Barnes, P.C., our Abington, PA estate planning attorneys understand how challenging this situation can be, and the danger your loved one may present to themselves. Guardianship and conservatorships can help to address these issues, ensuring assets are protected and that they get the care they need.
When Guardianship and Conservatorships Are Needed to Provide for a Loved One
Guardianship and conservatorships are appointed by the court in cases where an adult becomes incapacitated and unable to care for themselves or make sound decisions on their own. A guardianship grants another authority in decisions regarding physical care and medical treatment, while a conservatorship deals with financial affairs, such as paying bills and managing investments.
Under Section 5511-5518 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, the court requires clear and convincing evidence of incapacitation before guardianship and conservatorships are appointed. This may include the person’s medical and mental health records, along with statements from doctors and other professionals, such as their accountant or attorneys. Facts the judge will consider before appointing guardianship and conservatorships include:
- The nature of the condition that prevents the person from making decisions for themselves or communicating those decisions to others;
- The extent to which they are impaired;
- The support the individual receives from family and friends and any current advance directives in place;
- The amount of time guardianships and conservatorships would need to remain in effect;
- The extent of authority a guardian or conservator would have over the person’s medical and financial decisions.
While these court proceedings are often complicated and time consuming, guardianship and conservatorships may be granted on an emergency basis, if the situation warrants it.
Your Legal Duties in Guardianship and Conservatorships
Guardianship and conservatorships come with a fiduciary duty, which means that any actions taken must be in the best interests of the incapacitated person. Under Pennsylvania Court guidelines, duties of the person appointed include the following:
- Discovery of the person’s total property and assets, and reporting this to the court;
- Safeguarding property to ensure it is not lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed;
- Managing and investing assets so they retain or increase in value;
- Paying any debts, obligations, and expenses incurred by the incapacitated person;
- Filing a yearly accounting with the court, detailing your actions as the conservator or guardian.
Get Answers to Your Questions About Guardianship and Conservatorships
To request a free consultation to speak with our attorneys regarding guardianship and conservatorships, call or contact Egbert & Barnes, P.C. online today. With more than 60 years combined experience in serving clients throughout Pennsylvania, we provide the comprehensive, high quality legal representation you need in these situations, all at a price you can afford.