As the Baby Boomer generation enters retirement age, many adults revisit their estate plans. Changes in family makeup, retirement plans and healthcare may require tweaks to prevent claims against the will. Additionally, older adults may consider identifying a guardian to take over their financial affairs if they become incapacitated or otherwise disabled.
Adults may find choosing a guardian challenging. A person must trust their guardian to manage not only their day-to-day affairs, but their entire life’s work.
8 questions to ask of a guardian
When choosing a guardian, people will want to select an honest individual they can trust. For those with families, choosing a person the heirs know will help reduce skepticism and smooth over the process. Wherever one looks, these eight questions may help determine a person’s fitness for the position:
- Do they act with honesty and integrity?
- Has a court convicted them of a crime?
- Are their personal financial affairs in order?
- Does their professional experience help them serve as a guardian?
- Do they have enough time to tend to the estate?
- Are they healthy?
- Do they have a history of addiction or substance abuse?
- Will the heirs respect and cooperate with the potential guardian?
Even if an individual identifies a preferred guardian, the state courts must still approve. Courts prefer blood relatives to serve as guardian, trusting the familial relationship to hold a guardian accountable. A court will place high expectations on their choice, as this individual must responsibly act in the best interests of the ward and the estate. The guardian will make decisions concerning investments, real estate, living expenses, and even diet. The potential guardian must have the skills, education and ability to manage this estate and preserve its assets.
A lawyer can help select a guardian
People may have more success in selecting a guardian under the guidance of a local attorney familiar with estate planning and elder law. An attorney can help research a candidate’s background, draft new estate planning documents and work with the courts on the selection process.