Guardianships are required to take control of a person who cannot take care of his or her own affairs. The incapacitated person could be a child who has assets, could be an adult who had a stroke, or a person who was in a debilitating accident. Generally, a guardianship is not necessary for an adult who has a Power of Attorney, but an adult who becomes a danger to himself or herself could require a guardianship even with a property Durable Financial Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney.
For adults, a guardianship requires an incompetency proceeding. These proceedings are not easy (It should not be easy to declare someone incompetent!), and require guardians ad litem, letters from doctors, testimony from the adult and family, and could be confrontational.
There are three types of guardians: guardians of the person, guardians of the estate, and the “general” guardian, which is a combination of both.
Guardianships require that the guardian of the estate get bonded, which can be difficult at times. In addition, a guardian has to account to the clerk of court each year. Because the clerks of court control guardianships, the guardian’s powers are much more limited than an Attorney-in-Fact working under a Power of Attorney. For many purposes, a guardian must petition the clerk of court before making financial moves.
When possible, I avoid guardianships, but I do not always get what I want.