Page 9 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - March 2020 - 27-03
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 As adults, and especially as we age, it is important to think about who we would want to manage our affairs if
we were unable to care for ourselves
or make informed decisions. A spouse, child, family member, or close friend would typically step into this role, often aided by a power of attorney that lays out personal, financial, and health- care-related wishes.
• Providing consent for medical treat- ments including end of life decisions.
A power of attorney can be general or specific as to the authority it gives. A few advantages include that:
• The document is inexpensive to
condition of the ward or his or her finances.
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• Determining where the ward will live in the least restrictive manner.
• Receiving income and paying bills.
• Applying for benefits.
• Managing financial, personal, and real
• Consenting to and monitoring ser-
vices, such as in-home care.
• Annually reporting to the court on the
• You get to decide who you want to
Some advantages of an appointed guardian and/or conservator include that:
• Clear legal authority is given to make
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appoint to make decisions on your
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• It provides peace of mind that the vul-
• You control whether that appointed
nerable adult has an advocate.
• The process provides court oversight.
agent has general or specific powers.
Some disadvantages are that:
• The process can be humiliating to the
Disadvantages include that:
• Some financial institutions may
adult in question, as he or she must be deemed incompetent to have a guard- ian or conservator appointed.
refuse to recognize a document after six months to one year, forcing you to continually update your power of attorney.
• The incapacitated person does not get to choose his or her guardian.
• The appointed agent could turn out to be untrustworthy, and there is no over- sight in the event that this occurs.
• It can be difficult if family or friends disagree on who to appoint.
Those who do not legally arrange for someone to manage their affairs and become unable to take care of themselves or make informed decisions are more vulnerable to homelessness, food insecurity, improper care, and exploitation. In these situations, the probate court may be asked (through a petition) to appoint a guardian or con- servator (also known as “guardian of the estate”). A trusted family member or friend typically takes this advocacy role.
• It can result in conflict between the incapacitated individual and the fami- ly member or friend appointed.
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                                                  It is important to understand that establishing guardianship removes considerable rights from an individual, or “ward,” and is only considered after alternatives – such as power of attorney – have proven ineffective or unavail- able. Those appointed to this role have duties of care toward their ward and must put their interests first.
In those situations where no family or friend is able or willing to serve, a professional guardian may be appoint- ed. Guardian Finance and Advocacy Services (GFAS), a local 501(c)(3) non- profit corporation, has been serving as a trusted public fiduciary since its found- ing in 1966 and advocates for approx- imately 500 individuals in a guardian- ship or conservatorship capacity each year. Its mission has always been to bring dignity, safety, and stability to all those served.
Court-appointed guardians or con- servators may have the following responsibilities, depending on the extent of the individual’s incapacity:
are covered by the Calhoun County Senior Millage. If you have an interest in learning more about our mission to bring dignity, safety, and stability to all those we serve, please visit our website at
If you are a senior aged 60 years or older, living in Calhoun County, and earning an annual income below the 200 percent poverty line ($24,980) – or someone you know meets this descrip- tion – GFAS guardianship services
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