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Atlanta Guardianship Attorney: Guardians and Conservators Serve Different Purposes

As an Atlanta guardianship attorney, I speak with a lot of people who are confused by Georgia’s guardianship and conservatorship laws and the difference in the roles between a guardian and a conservator.  Before distinguishing those roles, it will be helpful to explain why a guardianship or conservatorship may be needed. Generally, there are three circumstances in which a person needs a guardian and/or conservator: (1) a minor is no longer under the care of either of his or her parents (a/k/a natural guardians), (2) a minor is due a payment from a financial institution (e.g., life insurance proceeds, retirement plan beneficiary distribution, etc.) whether or not under the care of his or her parents, and (3) an adult becomes incapacitated to the extent that he or she cannot perform routine daily functions (e.g., cooking, bathing, paying bills, and balancing a check book) without help.  In any of those circumstances, an interested party can petition the probate court of the county in which the minor or incapacitated adult (referred to as the “ward”) lives for the appointment of a guardian and/or conservator. A guardian is a person appointed to look after the “person” of the ward.  In other words, a… [Read More]

Georgia Guardianship Attorney: Plan for Dementia-Related Incapacity

As part of my Atlanta guardianship law practice, I have represented several clients in guardianship actions seeking to be appointed guardians of a parent, spouse, or other relative with a dementia-related disease.  In most instances, the proposed ward had either been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or exhibited many symptoms of the disease.  I am reminded with each client how important it is for everyone to have an estate plan in place that includes, at a minimum, a Last Will and Testament, financial power of attorney, and Georgia Advanced Directive for Healthcare.  Having these three documents may save you and your family not only from problems that might arise after you die but also from problems that arise due to your incapacitation, whether by a dementia-related disease or otherwise.  But for this post I focus on the growing prevalence of dementia-related diseases, and especially Alzheimer’s disease, because it is these types of diseases people least expect but are, year after year, more likely to have as they get older. Over the last decade, the prevalence of dementia-related diseases has grown among the elderly, and Alzheimer’s disease is leading the pack.  The Alzheimer’s Association provides a remarkable and worrying fact sheet at… [Read More]

Georgia Estate Planning: Everybody Needs a Will

I’ve been an Atlanta estate planning lawyer for several years, and on a regular basis I get new calls from people seeking help with an estate of a loved one who died intestate (i.e., without a Will).  Those calls usually begin with the caller complaining that the decedent made no Will.  Having represented dozens of clients dealing with intestate estates, I am immediately sympathetic. I can still help the caller but know from the start the process will be more complicated than it needed to be. Rocket Lawyer, an online legal service provider, found in a recent estate planning survey that 61% of Americans do not have a Last Will and Testament. Even worse, that number climbs to 70% for people with children under 18 years old.  Failing to make a Will, especially for people in the latter category, will subject your estate to unnecessary difficulty and, in some cases, utter calamity through family infighting, incompetent estate administration, and litigation. People have myriad reasons to not make a Will: I’m young. I don’t have kids. I don’t own enough stuff. I’m not sick. I don’t want to think about death. The law will take care of it. All of the… [Read More]

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