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Be Specific When Indicating Who Should Become Your Guardian If And When You Need One

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There is more than one way to interpret the statement that estate planning is about planning for life, not just planning for death.  The websites of estate planning law firms call to mind the optimistic interpretation, where you and your spouse enjoy your retirement years in good health and give generous gifts to your grandchildren.  Meanwhile, an equally important aspect of estate planning involves preparing for the worst; you should have legal and financial plans in place for your care if you are in poor health for an extended period.  This includes not only nursing home planning and long-term care insurance, but also decisions about authorizing another person to act as your guardian and make decisions about your healthcare and finances if you are too ill to make your own decisions.  As distressing as it is to think about your family members fighting over your estate after you are gone, it is even worse to see them fighting over you and your money while you are alive.  A Hillsborough County estate planning lawyer can help you articulate your plans about giving someone else control over your decisions in the event that the need arises.

It’s Even Worse If Your Children Do Battle With Your Spouse While You Are Alive

When Martin and Lois got married in 1993, they were in their 70s, and Lois became a stepmother to Martin’s son and daughters.  Martin was diagnosed with dementia some time after they married, and by 2014, his short-term memory loss was severe enough that he needed a guardian to make decisions on his behalf.  Martin’s son Robert submitted a petition, requesting that the court appoint a guardian for Martin.  The petition specified that Martin’s closest relatives were Lois, Robert, and Robert’s sisters.  The petition recommended against appointing Lois as a guardian, claiming that she was not healthy enough to act as one.

Just days after the court appointed him as guardian, Robert petitioned the court to evict Lois from the marital home.  He claimed that Lois had been neglecting Martin, thereby making his health worse, either intentionally or because she simply was not healthy enough to provide adequate care for him.  Lois complied with the court’s order and moved out, but from there, she brought her own set of legal challenges.  She claimed that it was unfair and unnecessary to give Robert complete control over Martin’s decisions; a health surrogate and power of attorney would be sufficient.  Things got progressively uglier until Robert even claimed that Martin was unfit to consent to being married to Lois.

Contact an Attorney Today for Help

If your closest family members do not have a good relationship with each other, that is all the more reason to get started on your estate plan now, while you are still healthy.  A Tampa probate lawyer can help you develop a comprehensive estate plan that covers your own care as well as the distribution of your property.  Contact David Toback for help today.

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