When an individual reaches the age of 18, he or she has the right to make decisions on his behalf. A guardian may be required if an individual has a disability, limitation, or disability that affects their ability to effectively receive, evaluate, and communicate decisions. In Pennsylvania, guardians should only be tracked if there are no less restrictive alternatives.
Alternatives to the guardianship system include the appointment of an agent under the general durable adult guardianship system and the durable medical adult guardianship system. In addition, if an individual does not have an adult guardianship system, a guardian may be avoided by a family acting as a medical representative under the Pennsylvania Medical Representative Act (20 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 5461). Unfortunately, there are many situations that require the need for a guardian to manage the property of an incompetent individual or to provide personal health and security.
The guardian is initiated by a petition filed in the orphanage department of the court of common petition in the county in which the suspect resides. To be appointed as the guardian of an individual, the petitioner must provide medical evidence from a physician who treats the individual’s incompetence. The person applying for a guardian must personally serve the individual requesting the appointment of a guardian. Notifications include a copy of the petition and a written notice of the date and time of the hearing. After that, a hearing will be held. The hearing should provide evidence that the individual is incompetent and that there is no less restrictive alternative to guardianship. The court then decides whether a guardian needs to be appointed and, where appropriate, decides on the individual as incompetent. Parents are then empowered to make decisions regarding the care and financial management of persons with disabilities.
Once a guardian is acquired, the guardian must submit an inventory of the incapacitated person’s assets within 90 days of appointment. In addition, parents are required to submit to the court each year a report explaining the disability’s assets, income, and expenses, as well as an individual’s report providing information on the disability’s place of residence and type. The care they receive, and the doctors and care providers who treat them.
Guardianship is a more restrictive tool for dealing with incompetence than the Power of Attorney (POA). POA increases flexibility and usually has no court involvement. The power of a permanent lawyer is one of the most important real estate planning documents you can have and can prevent the need for a guardian in case of incompetence.
To sign a POA, you need the legal competence required to sign it. Therefore, signing a POA may not be an option for some individuals. If you are incapacitated and have never signed a POA before, it is often too late. At that point, your spouse, relatives, or friends should petition the court claiming that you are incompetent and demand that you be appointed as your guardian. Guardianship procedures can often be avoided if proper planning is done before incapacity.
If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the OWM Law Elders Team (610-323-2800) or send an email to Rebecca Hobbs, CELA ©. firstname.lastname@example.org
The legal advice in this column is by nature general. Talk to a lawyer for advice that suits your particular situation.
Rebecca A. Hobbs, Esquire, is licensed to work in Pennsylvania, is licensed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and is recognized as an Elder Attorney by the National Elderly Law Foundation. She is the principal of the law firms of O’Donnell, Weiss & Matty, PC, 41 High Street, Pottstown, and 347 Bridge Street, Phoenix Building, 610-323-2800, www. owmlaw.com.You can reach Ms. Hobbs email@example.com
Pennsylvania Guardian – thereporteronline
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