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Navigating the challenges of guardianship

Assuming guardianship of another person's property, medical decisions, and finances is a large responsibility. To ensure that the process protects our most vulnerable at such a critical time, AARP has been working with organizations and state leadership to improve guardianship and conservatorship practices in Alabama.

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What is guardianship?

When a person is incapable of managing his or her personal decisions or property, a court may appoint a guardian to make decisions on their behalf. These decisions can be related to handling personal property, medical care, living arrangements, and other financial issues. As a court proceeding, it can be expensive, time-consuming and complex. But the end result of that process can help prevent elder abuse and financial exploitation, if done correctly.

The role of a fiduciary

Most people have no experience being a conservator of someone else’s property when faced with that responsibility. That’s why AARP worked with Alabama WINGS (Working Interdisciplinary Network of Guardianship Stakeholders) to create a guide entitled: Managing Someone Else’s Money: Help for Court-Appointed Conservators in Alabama. This guide helps assist conservators in understanding their responsibilities. In that role, the conservator is a fiduciary -- in other words, a person responsible for managing money or property for the benefit of someone else. It is a position of trust, in every sense of the word.

The guide provides brief tips to help conservators avoid problems and directs them to resources for more information. This guide is for family and friends serving as a conservator, not for professionals or organizations. The guide does not provide legal advice. Anyone having legal questions about the roles and responsibilities of a conservator should always speak to a qualified legal advisor, preferably before the court process commences.

For more information about Alabama WINGS, and to find resources for judges, attorneys, and the public, please visit: alabamawings.alacourt.gov.

To download a free copy of the guide, please click this link:

AL Conservators Guide September 2018 Version

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