Meg and Wes

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Choosing Health Help

Having made a painfully slow three-year recovery from incompetency after a mountain climbing accident, Wes no longer takes his ability to exercise control over his own life for granted. 

He has already decided to sign a Power of Attorney for Property, to have his twin brother, Ted, to manage his finances if it were to become necessary again.  Meg would serve as the alternate if Ted is cannot do it.

Now Wes is working on his Power of Attorney for Health Care, that will allow Wes to name who would be the decision-maker for him in the event he were unable to make medical decisions for himself. 

For this, he wants to name his daughter first, as she would be most concerned about those decisions.  But then he knows that Ted really understands his views on end-of-life decision-making.  So he asks if he can put them on together.

The answer is no, and it is non-negotiable.  When the legislature passed the Act creating the Power of Attorney for Health Care, it specified that no joint or co-agents were allowed. 

That way the doctor does not have to poll several individuals and track down multiple signatures for consent; instead the signature and opinion of only one person at a time is relevant or needed. 

However, Wes can name either one first, and the other second.  And he can give them non-binding, informal direction to consult with each other before making any major decisions. 

For advice on planning that allows you to control who makes your decisions when you cannot, please call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an estate planning appointment. 

© 2015 Gruber Law Office

Monday, September 14, 2015

Taking More Control

Wes and his daughter Meg have celebrated his recovery of his mental faculties three years after his traumatic mountain climbing accident.  Meg likes having her father ‘back’ more like she remembers while growing up and is also pleased to be done managing Wes’ finances as his court-appointed guardian.

Wes likes being back in control of his own finances.  He had a long recovery, made more difficult by having to watch his daughter struggle with the burden of managing his financial portfolio during these volatile years as the market has battled back from the 2008 drop. 

Since Meg is a generation younger, she had not previously managed such substantial assets.  She did not have time to learn over time as her own investments slowly grew.  Instead, she had to learn with her father’s retirement nest egg at risk while reporting all to the court.

Wes no longer takes his ability to exercise more control for granted.  He has decided to execute a Power of Attorney for Property, where he names who he would manage his finances without guardianship court supervision.  He chooses his twin brother, Ted, with Meg to serve as the alternate if Ted is cannot do it.  He feels Meg has had enough burden already.

Planning is a way to keep control even if it unexpectedly slips from your grasp.  For advice regarding your own planning opportunities, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thankful With Lesson Learned

With the court’s approval, Meg has gladly handed over management of her father’s money back to her father, Wes.  She had been appointed by the court and acted as Wes’s guardian for the three years it took for him to recover his mental faculties after his mountain climbing accident.

With the court ruling that Wes is competent again, both Wes and Meg are thankful that the guardianship proceeding is over and particularly that it is no longer necessary.  It also means that Wes can do something now (besides being a safer mountain climber) to prevent or reduce any future guardianship costs. 

One key way for Wes to do this would be to execute Powers of Attorney – one for finances and one for medical decision-making. 

The Power of Attorney for Property would control financial decisions.  In it, Wes names who should take care of his finances if he is unavailable or cannot do so himself.  Then, if the need arose, the person taking care of his finances will not have to be appointed guardian and have their actions supervised by the court.

Planning ahead is an opportunity Wes now has again.  He has decided that since he now knows how fragile life is, he won’t take that opportunity for granted this time. 

For advice on planning that will protect what you have and your loved ones, please call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment. 

© 2015 Gruber Law Office

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Happy Ending with Red Tape

Meg has been managing Wes’s money as his guardian since his mountain climbing accident left him unable to do it himself.  But after extensive therapy, Wes seems to be recovered now, and they both want him to control of his own life and finances again.

Meg can turn control over to him with his help by filing a petition to terminate the court’s adjudication of disability and asking that the guardianship be terminated.  Then, they must convince the judge that her father has regained his capabilities and can now resume taking care of himself.  Wes will probably testify; there does not necessarily have to be any doctor’s reports or exam, although that might be helpful too.

Meg will need to do a full and complete accounting of her activities as guardian to the court.  After all, once she’s no longer guardian, her father is going to need to know where all his money and investments are.  And the court needs to make sure that Meg has finished her job responsibly till the very end.

So it’s more paperwork and expense, but at least this time it’s for a happy reason.

For advice about planning your own affairs to make future guardianship less likely even if you end up needing help, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.  There are tools other than guardianship that can help in these situations.  

© 2015 Gruber Law Office

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Meg has been managing Wes’s money as his guardian for three years, ever since his mountain climbing accident left him unable to do it himself. For the past two years, Wes has undergone extensive therapy and has shown small steps of improvement in his condition.

In fact, Meg is beginning to think he is really coming back to be more like the father she knew before the accident.  She knows he’s becoming more responsible and less confused.

She has been working with his doctors and therapists throughout the three years, and they now agree that perhaps it’s now time to turn over some control back to Wes.  

It isn’t so easy as Meg just deciding that and “quitting” as guardian, but the law is designed to allow the ending of guardianships just as soon as it would be in the best interests of the ward to do so.

Of course, the court will insist on supervising the end of the guardianship and will require documentation all around from Meg.  We will discuss some of those requirements next week.

Guardianship is not simple, but is sometimes necessary and is designed to protect the incapacitated person. 

For advice to avoid the need for guardianship or to deal with a situation that might later call for a guardianship, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office

Thursday, August 13, 2015

'Ghost' Contract

Meg has been managing Wes’s money as his guardian since his mountain climbing accident left him unable to do it himself.  But her dad is still out there, and you wouldn’t necessarily notice at first glance that he is now incompetent.

Recently, Wes went out and signed a contract to purchase a very expensive car.  The salesman filled out all the forms and told Wes where to sign.  Meg stormed over to the dealership to ask why they hadn’t contacted her since talking with Wes for more than several minutes usually reveals serious problems.

Regardless of why the salesman did or did not notice a problem, the contract Wes signed is not binding.  Meg does not have to spend any of Wes’s money to buy the car.

The law says that actions of a ward in a guardianship regarding contracts are void.  That means that any money Wes has deposited must be returned, and the contract is not binding, because the law treats it as if the contract was never signed.  The car dealer simply does not have a ‘ghost of a chance’ to enforce that contract.

For advice dealing with issues related to loved ones with deteriorating self-care skills without resorting to guardianship by preparing realistically for the future before it is a crisis, call us at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

More Than Financial Duties

Meg has been managing her father’s money since his mountain climbing accident left him unable to do it himself.  But under her order of guardianship for him, Meg does more than mind his finances.  She also makes uniquely personal decisions for him.

She makes all of his medical care decisions, such as whether there should be a Do Not Resuscitate order if he is in the hospital, whether he should change his doctor, whether he should go to Mayo Clinic, whether brain surgery is a good option and myriad other decisions, both daily and rare.

Meg also has access to all his medical records, past and present, and the right to hear his doctor’s advice.  Importantly, Meg also would make any decision about whether Wes should sue the doctor who failed to take action to relieve the pressure on his brain upon his admission to the hospital immediately after his climbing fall.

Complicated decisions can be partly simplified for the person who may later have to speak for you - if you give good guidance through a legal, written plan while you are still able to give some directions in advance.

For help making such advance directions workable, both legally and practically, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

He Made Me Do It

As Wes’ guardian, Meg has been managing her father’s investments since his mountain climbing accident left him unable to do it for himself.   

She has already discovered that Wes managed his investments very well before his accident.  Now he has been telling her what he thinks she should do with his money. 

Meg has been tempted to listen, because it would help Wes feel more in control again.  But when she checked on two investments he “ordered” her to make, they proved to be worthless. 

Meg does not have to follow Wes’ orders.  In this case, she should not follow them, because if they are irresponsible decisions, she, not Wes, can be held liable by the court. 

After all, in order to be named his guardian, Meg just spent a lot of time and effort to show that Wes no longer had the ability to make such decisions.  It would hardly make sense for the court to allow her to shirk her new responsibility by saying that she was just following Wes’ orders.

In short, the ‘he made me do it’ excuse not only fails to work with most mothers, it also fails to work for the court in a guardianship. 

Estate planning can help give investment direction to certain family members, or even to an investment professional, if the need arises for someone else to handle your finances.  For help planning your own estate, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Preserve and Protect

After Wes’ mountain climbing accident left him unable to care for himself, his daughter Meg successfully petitioned the court to be named his guardian.  She knew she was needed to take care of his financial matters and make other decisions, too.

As his guardian, her paramount duty as seen by the court is to conserve and protect Wes’ assets, so that the assets and income are applied to Wes’ use, enjoyment and benefit.  She must handle his affairs the same way a good and conscientious business person would handle her own affairs.

The court may hold Meg liable for any mismanagement of Wes’ estate.  Meg earlier purchased a guardian’s bond, actually an insurance policy, to guarantee her good performance of her duties.  But, if she is found to have mismanaged Wes’ estate, she can be held personally liable. 

That means Meg might have to pay back any of Wes’ money she is deemed to have wasted out of her own pocket.  The guardian’s bond will not ‘save’ Meg from paying for any mistakes; it just helps to assure that Illinois, which might through its Medicaid program end up paying his nursing home bills if Wes were penniless, will receive some money to cover those expenses if they are caused by mismanagement mistakes.  This is part of why Illinois, through its probate guardianship laws, wants to be protect Wes and his money by making requirements to minimize the risk that Wes will be left without resources.

Estate planning can help give guidance to any needed future guardian or agent selected by you.  For help planning your estate, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Careful and Diligent

Wes was an extremely successful businessman before his untimely mountain climbing accident disabled many of his mental abilities.  After his daughter Meg was appointed his guardian by the court, she discovered that he’d been a financial wizard too. 

His records were scattered and disorganized, but he has a lot of money tucked in several stocks, bonds and real estate, along with his regular bank accounts.  Meg realizes that it will be hard to keep up. How can she be sure she is making the best investments and maximum returns?

Plus, Meg knows that the court will scrutinize her periodic guardianship reports.  The court will measure her performance by checking whether she is being as careful and diligent as “a good and conscientious business person” would be about her own affairs under like circumstances.

 She can ask for help from professionals or do it on her own, but she must make her decisions as responsibly as a good and conscientious business person.

Estate planning can help keep things organized to enable any future guardian to ‘hit the ground running’ and make better investment decisions for your situation.  For help planning protection for your family’s future, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Regular Reports

Meg has been appointed Wes’ guardian after his debilitating rock climbing accident by the court.  Now she has the ability to spend his money subject to guardian responsibilities.  She must provide for Wes’ care, comfort, education and maintenance. 

To ensure that she does that Meg is required to make periodic reports (usually once a year) to the probate court on Wes’ condition and her expenditures to provide care for him.  The court will review the accounting to be sure that her acts and decisions reflect Wes’ best interest.

If the judge is not convinced that a particular decision is in Wes’ best interest, the judge can enter an order preventing Meg from doing it or stopping her from continuing it. If Wes needed a paid live-in companion, for example, Meg would report that to the court and ask that her decision to hire someone be approved. 

In other words, Meg must come to a good decision on hard questions, and should be able to convince a judge that her decision was good and would not threaten or cause harm to Wes.

Estate planning can simplify the life of the caregiver, if the need for a caregiver arises.  For help planning your estate, call our office at (815) 436-1996 for an appointment.

© 2015 Gruber Law Office, Ltd.

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