Guardianship Planning

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Adult Guardianship

If your family member is no longer capable of making financial or personal care decisions, you may need court-appointed authority to be their guardian of property or personal care. Seniors with dementia and adults with serious mental illness or who suffer head injuries are often left without a power of attorney (POA) to manage their financial affairs. Unless a family member or someone else steps up, a health assessor who decides your loved one is mentally incapable may appoint the Ontario Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) as their statutory guardian. You can take responsibility for assisting them by applying to be their guardian in place of the OPGT.

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What is guardianship planning?

Do you need guardianship if you have power of attorney (POA)? No, because a POA is created while an adult is capable of making decisions, but wants assistance managing day-to-day affairs like paying bills or is planning ahead for a day when they could be incapacitated. POA appointments are based on choice. Guardians are court appointed when someone who is mentally incapable doesn’t have a POA to represent their interests and can’t express their personal preferences.

Who Can Be a Guardian?

Any adult over 18 with the person’s interests at heart can make a guardianship application. Although trust companies can be appointed, usually a guardian is a loved one or friend who is trustworthy, has a close relationship with them and can manage finances responsibly. Courts or the OPGT hear from spouses, relatives or friends and the person can speak on their own behalf or have a lawyer do so. If you are unsure you are doing the right thing, you can ask for someone to be assessed, provided they don’t have a POA and don’t object. If you decide after the fact that you prefer not to be guardian, you can resign.

Your Legal Obligations as Guardian

As guardian, you are expected to act in the person’s best interests and give them the best quality of life possible. It’s your legal obligation to:

Separate your own and the person’s finances to prevent intermingling assets

Pay legitimate bills, debts and legal obligations they can afford

Collect income and benefits, such as pensions and GST refunds

File and pay taxes

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