Minor Children
Individuals with Special Needs
Pets
Healthcare Decisions

Minor Children

Do You Know Who Will Care for your Kids if the Worst Happens to You?

You have opinions on how to raise your children and who you want to raise them if you can’t.

Don’t leave the choice to a judge or fighting family members. A judge cannot know your thoughts and desires.  A judge can only see who looks best on paper. Even if you don’t feel like you have a perfect choice (few people do) your choice is better than a judge’s guess.

Even worse, if more than one family member thinks they should be the one to take care of your children, the family members could go to court to fight over who will be appointed guardian by the court. Your children’s interests will not served by the fighting or wasting money on litigation.

We Provide You with a Comprehensive Plan for the Care of Your Children!

We help you to prepare a comprehensive plan for the care of your children, so that no matter what, your children will be cared for by people YOU choose and know, like and trust. This planning addresses who you want to be the guardian of your children in the long-term. It ALSO addresses who you want to take care of your children in the short-term if your long-term guardians aren’t immediately available or they need time to travel to your children. The planning provides guidance to your chosen guardians on how you want your kids raised, as well.

At the Least – Especially if You Might Not Do More Now – Name Long-term Guardians for FREE!

You can name guardians for free at NJKidsPlan.info. For more information about this free online tool, Click Here!

Get our FREE Report on The 7 Must-Dos When Naming Guardians!

Individuals with Special Needs

Planning for Special Needs

If you have a child with special needs or are taking care of a person with special needs, you face further challenges to planning for their care and protection. There are many details from thinking about whether they will need continuing care over the age of 18, to establishing Adult Guardianship once they have reached age 18, to ensuring that they do not own assets above the asset threshold so that they can qualify for government programs (even if you are actually not in need of the government assistance from a monetary perspective, some programs that could enhance the life of the person with special needs are only available to those who “have a Medicaid card”), etc.

About Adult Guardianship

  • To have guardianship over someone over the age of 18, a court needs to grant it.
  • The court decides on the basis that the person doesn’t have the capacity to make health/medical, personal care, educational, financial, and safety decisions.
    • The standard for having capacity is pretty low. The state cannot keep people from making bad decisions…. so just because decisions are/will be bad and not in the interest of the individual, isn’t enough for the court to appoint a guardian over the individual.
    • The court decides this on the basis of evidence, the most important piece of which is the doctors’ certifications of the individual’s incapacity. In addition, you can include affidavits from teachers at school or anyone who has expertise on which to base an opinion about the person’s capacity.
  • The types of guardianship are:
    • Full guardianship  – gives control and all decision making power to the guardian.
    • Limited guardianship – gives control and power for certain decisions to the guardian.
      • Guardianship of the Person – gives control over medical and personal decisions, but doesn’t give control and decision making power over finances.
      • Guardianship of the Estate, aka Conservator – only gives control and decision making power over finances.
      • Guardianship for Medical Decisions – gives control and decision making power over medical decisions.  This is used when somebody is incapacitated but needs medical decisions made and there is disagreement among interested parties, or the hospital wants somebody to be appointed by the court. For a non-relative, such as a good friend, to serve as the medical guardian, a court appointment is necessary.
  • The court will appoint an attorney to represent the interests of the individual alleged to have diminished capacity. If the individual wants to fight it, wants their appointed attorney to fight the finding of incapacity, it can be harder to show incapacity.
  • A Power of Attorney for Medical Care or a Healthcare Proxy is not effective unless the person is unable to communicate his health wishes. While an individual always has a right to include others in his or her medical care, the individual also has the right to revoke the permission and refuse to include anyone whenever he or she wants at will.
  • The above guardianships can be dissolved by the court upon an application showing capacity has been restored.

Resources to Check Out

Pets

If you have a pet, you want to be sure they are taken care of if you cannot provide care.

We can help you create a  Pet Care Plan to provide care:

  • if you are temporarily unavailable, such as caught in bad traffic and you forgot your phone, or a medical emergency;
  • if you are incapacitated and it’s possible that you will be able to enjoy the companionship of your pet;
  • if you need long-term care in a setting that does not allow pets; or when you die.

A plan will ensure that your pet gets the care it needs in a timely manner and preserve reuniting with your pet as much as feasible.  A plan may be less formal (a promise by local friend or family who love your pet(s)) to most formal (a funded pet trust with a trustee, caregiver, and alternates if the first trustee or caregiver is unable to serve.

Healthcare Decisions

Making sure you have chosen and documented your choices for who you want to make healthcare decisions for you if you were unable to make them is a very important part of what we do to help you to make things easier for your family.

Having your Healthcare Documents in order helps to minimize potential arguments among family members because your family does not have to guess or debate (or fight about) what you would have wanted. When Terri Schiavo’s wishes were not known the battle between her relatives went on for years and ended up in the Supreme Court.

When your family members know who you want to make healthcare decisions, they are more likely to go along with decisions they don’t agree with.

You may want to provide further written guidance about what sort of healthcare you do and do not want. This will guide doctors and your proxy in making end-of-life decisions, if you are unable to make decisions.

Moreover, without knowing your wishes, doctors and medical professionals may use costly, specialized procedures that you would not want. Family members can ask “Isn’t there something you can do?” Doctors, in part afraid of the legal ramifications of being thought to have made the wrong choice, are likely to do something that may be futile.

Aside from legal considerations, letting your family know your wishes lets them follow your wishes instead of feeling overwhelmed by the choices they are facing, as well as guilt over “giving up”.

For all of these reasons, we help you with documenting your choices for your healthcare.

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