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Becoming a guardian for an incapacitated individual

Becoming a caregiver for a family member often goes beyond helping elderly parents or taking care of someone with emotional issues--such as the case with Britney Spears that we discussed a few weeks ago. Millions of people in Florida and across the country have siblings with lifelong special needs, and more and more of them are finding themselves in the position of caring for them after their parents are gone.

The prospect of attaining guardianship for a disabled sibling can be a daunting one. Not only are there legal aspects that caring siblings must go through to become guardians, but the emotional and financial aspects may also be difficult to face. An Easter Seals survey showed that few people feel financially prepared to look after a sibling with a mental illness or physical disability.

Many disabled adults have Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid to provide needed financial support, but their legal guardians may benefit by setting up a trust. This can further ensure their needs are taken care of as elderly parents pass away, and in the event the disabled sibling needs to be put in a care facility. A trust will enable a person with special needs to receive extra money while still being able to receive SSI and Medicaid.

Making the decision to take care of a disabled sibling while your parents are aging can be a difficult one, but for the disabled person, it can be reassuring to receive care from a familiar loved one. An estate planning attorney can help with the process of attaining guardianship, as well as setting up trusts and the other financial aspects of taking care of a sibling with special needs.

Source: US News, “Caring for a Sibling With Special Needs,” Geoff Williams, May 14, 2013

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