Elizabeth O. Lawrence
K&L’s elder law practice encompasses many different fields of law providing for the unique legal and financial demands of senior citizens. We assist clients and their families with a variety of legal issues, from estate planning to long term care issues, with a primary emphasis on promoting quality of life for the clients. Our firm takes a holistic approach to ensure that each client’s plan addresses his or her legal, medical, financial, and social needs.
Under a legal guardianship, the Probate Court appoints one person to take care of another person. A conservatorship occurs when the court appoints one person to take care of another person’s property. We encourage all of our clients to sign Financial Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives for Health Care in which the clients select the persons who will take care of the clients and their property if they are unable to do so. With this planning, it is normally not necessary to have the court appoint a guardian or conservator. Occasionally, we meet with clients whose family members have not signed Powers of Attorney or Advance Directives for Health Care, or the documents prove to be insufficient under the circumstances. If the person suffers from dementia or other incapacity, it may be too late to sign these documents. If that happens, the family or friends must go to court to ask the judge to appoint a guardian and/or conservator. This process can be very confusing and stressful for all involved. The person for whom guardianship and/or conservatorship is sought has the right to a lawyer. The judge normally orders the person to undergo medical and psychological evaluations. Once a person is appointed as guardian and/or conservator, he or she will be under the constant supervision of the court and the attorneys at K&L are here to help the guardian or conservator meet the court’s requirements.