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Guardianship over adults requiring mental health treatment

In Maryland and elsewhere, living with a person with mental health issues often presents a unique set of challenges. These individuals may require more care and attention from their loved ones. Fortunately, families are often able to adjust and provide this extra care with little trouble, but there are some difficulties that are not so easily overcome. Some people with mental health issues are prone to self-harm or violence toward others, and their loved ones are limited in how well they can help them, especially if the person is legally an adult. Obtaining guardianship over a person with mental health problems may be a potential solution for some families.

One mother found this to be the case when her adult schizophrenic son's mental state began to deteriorate. She tried filing harassment charges against her son, hoping that this would force him to undergo a mental evaluation and treatment. However, he informed authorities that everything was fine, and he returned home.

Protect yourself from power of attorney abuse

There are many decisions to be made when making an estate plan, and many Maryland residents may find it difficult or stressful. Naming a power of attorney can be especially stressful for some. However, giving a person this responsibility, and instructions of when they are able to exercise the powers that come with it, could help to protect the estate planner and his or her property.

A caregiver was recently arrested for stealing more than $40,000 in cash and an additional $5,000 worth of jewelry from her employer, a wheelchair-bound woman in Florida. She had used her employer's debit card, forged multiple checks, and taken the jewelry to a pawn shop claiming that it was her own. The fraudulent charges and missing jewelry were found after she was let go for not providing her charge with adequate care. Initially, the woman denied the allegations claiming that she had been granted power of attorney and was acting in her employer's interest.

Does everyone need a will?

Many people living in Maryland have misconceptions about when they need to have wills written. They often believe that a will is not needed until they have acquired some level of wealth. However, there are more reasons to have a will than many people may realize.

Some people forget that when an individual turns 18 he or she is legally an adult even if enrolled in high school or college. This means that if the young man or woman needs medical treatment he or she is expected to make the decisions concerning that treatment. Parents cannot legally intervene on their children's behalf if their children are deemed capable of making their own decisions.

Avoidable estate administration mistakes

For many Maryland residents, being named as the executor of a loved one's will can be a daunting task. There are many things that the chosen executor is responsible for that he or she may be unaware of or not understand how to complete. As a result, there are many recurring mistakes in estate administration

Many executors are eager to distribute the assets, but making these distributions too early may cause problems. Executors are responsible for paying any taxes or legal fees with the estate assets, and if those assets are distributed before those fees are paid, then the executor must find a way to see that they are paid. Many may also forget that creditors are to be informed about the estate so that they might file claims to settle any outstanding debts. Some surviving spouses might also qualify for a tax exemption, the paperwork for which the executor needs to ask for.

Benefits of consulting with an estate administration professional

The death of a family member can be a sad and stressful time for Maryland residents. Several things must be considered at one time, including funeral arrangements and estate administration. The estate executors are expected to carry out the terms of the will and settle any outstanding debts with the available assets. Family members or loved ones are often appointed as executors, but they may be more likely to make mistakes while carrying out their responsibilities because they are unfamiliar with the process. Hiring a professional or having the appointed executor consult one may help to prevent some of these mistakes from being made.

In addition to carrying out the deceased person's wishes, the executor is expected to file any necessary tax forms or applicable statutes. An inexperienced executor may be initially overwhelmed with paperwork he or she is required to fill out and file. For example, a living spouse may qualify for a tax exemption, but if the executor does not file the appropriate paperwork in a timely fashion, then the spouse may not be able to benefit from it.  There may also be a stocks portfolio or physical properties to consider. 

Gaining guardianship of a parent with Alzheimer's disease

When your parent gets a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, you may both be shocked, saddened and frightened of the future. After the initial shock has worn off, you may be able to sit down with your parent to talk about what you will be able to do for him or her when he or she can no longer make logical decisions regarding things like health care, finances or even personal hygiene.

Discussing the possibility of becoming a guardian to your mom or dad while they're still able to think clearly might be a wise idea. Guardianship can be a blessing at a time when your parent is no longer able to make legal decisions or sign documents pertaining to his or her estate because of mental incapacity.

Should a living will be part of your estate plan?

It is never easy to plan for the future, especially when it pertains to your own health care and potential medical problems you could face as you move through life. However, having a good, thoughtful estate plan in place can eliminate some of the stress regarding these sensitive matters.

Every Maryland family could benefit from having an estate plan. This makes certain issues easier for your family in case of incapacitation, but it also provides you peace of mind knowing that you get to decide what happens to your assets and to determine what kind of health care you want. As part of your complete estate plan, you may find it beneficial to consider the benefits of a living will.

Estate planning is for young Maryland residents too

When you're young and carefree, probably the last thing on your mind is planning for the future. However, life is unpredictable. There may be challenges even when you're young. No one wants to think about the "what ifs," but planning for those maybes may save you and your family members a lot of grief should the unthinkable happen.

That's where estate planning comes into play. It's not just for older Maryland residents. Tragedy can strike at any age. Having an estate plan even when you're young and single may give you peace of mind and be your voice when you can't speak.

Things to consider when assigning power of attorney

Writing a will can be a daunting task for all individuals, whether they are writing one for the first time or making changes to an existing document. For some Maryland residents, it may feel as though they are relinquishing control or making premature decisions about their lives. This may be especially true for those who are considering assigning a power of attorney

Individuals may find it helpful to have a backup agent, or they may find it helpful to separate the power of attorney between two people. It can be separated into financial and health care powers of attorney so that no one person is burdened with all of the decisions. One might also find it beneficial to include the entire family by informing them who the officially appointed agent is. This way the family may be more inclined to work together when making difficult decisions. 

Establishing a special needs trust

During the last several years, it seems as though more individuals are classified as having special needs. As a result, many Maryland families may be considering establishing a special needs trusts. These trusts are intended to supplement the income individuals with special needs may receive through government programs.

A special needs trust can be set up by either the individual that the trust is intended for or by a parent, legal guardian, grandparent or the court. These are referred to as either first party or third party trusts. In both cases, the disabled individual that the trust is intended for should be under the age of 65. Trusts that are established by a third party are expected to also be funded by a third party and not the individual that the trust is intended for.