Whether the result of a debilitating medical condition, an injury suffered in an accident or the disabling effects of the aging process, a person may become unable to manage their personal affairs. Georgia law allows a court to appoint guardians or conservators to manage and care for the affairs of adults incapable of doing so for themselves. Guardianship proceedings appoint someone to make medical decisions. A conservatorship may be necessary when an incapacitated person has financial matters that must be managed. Each requires approval from a court, but other options may be available depending upon the circumstances.
Person designated for appointment by the ward through an advance directive for health care signed before the ward became incapacitated.
Spouse of the incapacitated adult
Adult child of the ward
Parent of the incapacitated adult
Guardian appointed while the ward was a minor
Guardian of the adult previously appointed in this or another state
Friend or relative of the adult
If no one from any of the categories on the preference list is available or willing to serve as the guardian, the law authorizes the court to appoint any person it believes would be suitable to meet the needs of the ward. In the event that no one can be found to serve as guardian, a court may appoint either the county guardian or, if no one has been designated to serve in that capacity within the county, the court may appoint the Georgia Department of Human Services as the guardian.
Advanced Directive For Health Care: The document allows you to designate an agent to make health care decisions in the event you cannot make them on your own. It also permits you to name a guardian for appointment in the event you become incapacitated.
Georgia Statutory Financial Power of Attorney: This power of attorney designates an agent to make financial decisions on your behalf. Unless you specifically indicate in the document that it terminates in the event you become incapacitated, the power of attorney remains in effect and allows your designated agent to handle your finances.
Living trust: Transferring your assets into a trust with a person named as the trustee having the authority to manage them may eliminate the need for a conservatorship in the event you later become incapacitated.
The steps you take in advance of an accident, illness or other situation that may lead to your incapacity may not avoid the need for appointment of an adult guardian or conservator, but they may help to make the process easier for your family and loved ones.