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Understanding Guardianship Issues in Washington, DC

As part of any comprehensive estate plan, a durable power of attorney should be executed to designate an agent who can make health care and financial decisions on your behalf in the event that you become unable to care for yourself. In fact, each person over 18 should create a durable power of attorney to appoint an advocate in the event of illness, accident or causes incident to age.

But what if you have an incapacitated loved one without a durable power of attorney? In such cases, a knowledgeable attorney can guide you through the guardianship process. In the District of Columbia, persons who have not designated a health care or financial representative, can receive needed help through the court system.

How does this work? In the District,a guardian and a conservator provide different types of help to an incapacitated person. Primary differences include the following:

*Guardian: Appointed by the court to make decisions relative to medical, housing and other matters of physical care, a legal guardian does not have authority over significant monetary decisions.

*Conservator: A conservator is appointed by the court to attend to the financial well being of an incapacitated person, but does not act as a health care advocate.

As an intervention process, an action to appoint a guardian or conservator must prove the incapacity of the individual on whose behalf the petition is brought. Incapacity is proven through evidence provided by medical records or testimony.

The initiation of a petition for guardianship is the beginning of an involved process to safeguard the life and financial well-being of your loved one. Our firm offers skilled legal counsel throughout the guardianship process to help ensure your loved one receives good care and appropriate protections.

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