Colorado Guardianship & Power of Attorney – Legal Planning and Advocacy
My dad was not a planner. Mom, realizing she had health issues, did more than most. She excitedly told me about pre-purchasing burial plans down to the detail of what she wanted to wear in her casket. In my early thirties the death of my parents was the last thing I wanted to talk about. I thought the subject morbid and cried. My parents completed their wills and more importantly their living wills. Both my parents ended their lives in situations where the decision to “turn off the machines” ended their lives because there was no life remaining. These two decisions allowed their children not to have to make decisions or to guess what they would have wanted, if… Pamela D. Wilson
Guardianship supports individuals experiencing cognitive difficulties in making decisions about daily care. How do you choose a guardian? There is a difference between guardians who adhere to professional standards.
The responsibility of managing service providers and implementing service plans is the responsibility of the guardian.
A power of attorney provides similar support in the areas of medical care and finances. Not everyone requires a guardian, but everyone should have a power of attorney. Less than 20% of the population has completed long term legal planning. Most individuals lack education about the importance of such planning and which documents are generally included. Important documents are: Financial POA, Medical POA, a will including appointment of a personal representative, and a living will. Some individuals with substantial wealth will also establish trusts.
One of the hindrances in completing these documents is identifying a reputable and trusted individual to serve and carry out wishes. Another hindrance is a late or missed diagnosis of memory loss when an individual becomes unable to execute documents and guardianship (see below) may be the only option.
Another reason to execute documents early is to make sure not only that wishes are carried out but that funds exist to provide for care. For those of us currently not in care situations, the idea of parental or spousal caregiving abuse may seem unimaginable. The statistics prove a startling a reality.
In 2010, 9.5% of the elderly population (age 60 or older) experienced some type of abuse. 58.5% experienced self neglect, 15.7% physical abuse, 12.3% financial exploitation, and 7.3% emotional abuse. 66% of all abuse is perpetrated by adult children or a spouse. (Source: Statistic Brain: Elderly Abuse Statistics)
Colorado Guardianship and Power of Attorney: How We Help
If you find yourself in a situation interested in learning about legal planning or retaining an advocate, here’s how The Care Navigator staff helps:
- Power of attorney: financial and/or medical and all related and ongoing responsibilities
- Many single and married individuals are trending toward the appointment of professionals who will work in their best interest to serve in the capacity of power of attorney. This avoids not only the potential of spousal or adult child abuse but avoids squabbles that may result when the appointed individual is favored over others to serve. Families interact well until money or personal interests become involved. A financial power of attorney pays bills and manages the financial aspects of a person. A medical power of attorney makes ongoing decisions related to health care at the direction of the individual who places written documentation by way of a living will.
- Personal representative of the estate
- A personal representative of the estate is responsible for the final disposition via burial or cremation, if plans were not previously completed. The personal representative also pays final bills, finalizes pending estate matters and disburses funds from the estate at the direction of the decedent.
- Court appointed guardian
- Court appointed guardianship occurs when an individual is deemed by medical professionals to be unable to provide care for themselves due to a cognitive or other impairment that negatively affects their ability to effectively understand and evaluate information, thus not allowing them to positively respond and act in the best interests of their own care needs. Family members and other persons, called interested parties, are usually appointed as guardian. However there are situations when family declines to serve or no family is available. In these situations, a professional guardian, like The Care Navigator is appointed. A guardian’s responsibility is to provide oversight of an individual’s health and well being including residential and medical care. The ward, person for whom the guardian is appointed to act, is to be given as much decision making ability in his or her daily life as possible. Some wards continue to live independently, while others due to health or cognitive impairment may benefit from a great deal of oversight.