It is difficult to imagine that one day you may not be able to take care of yourself. However, facing this possibility is essential to making sure that your needs are met if you are no longer able to handle your affairs.
One way to protect your interests and your family’s future is to include certain documents in your estate plan, including a pre-need guardian declaration.
What is a pre-need guardian?
By completing a pre-need guardian declaration as part of your estate plan, you will be able to name someone you trust to serve as your guardian if you become incapacitated. The guardian can act on behalf of you and/or your property.
Your declaration must identify you (the declarant) and the person you name as pre-need guardian, and you must sign the declaration in front of two witnesses at the same time. You will then have to file the declaration with the court clerk.
Pre-need guardians are also appointed for children
If you have a child under the age of 18, you may file a pre-need guardian declaration to choose a guardian for your child if you and your spouse are deceased or incapacitated. You may also choose a second guardian if your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve.
How is a pre-need guardian appointed?
The court clerk will produce the pre-need guardian declaration once a petition for incapacity is filed on behalf of the declarant. Once the named guardian assumes their duties, they will have to petition for the confirmation of their appointment within 20 days.
The court will then confirm the appointment if it finds the guardian to be qualified. If the court finds them to be unfit to serve as guardians, they may appoint someone else.
If you are thinking about choosing a pre-need guardian for yourself or your child, a legal professional experienced in probate and estate administration can help you through each step of the process.