“I Care a Lot”

“I Care a Lot” is one of the most popular movies on Netflix recently.

The movie follows Marla Grayson who is a professional Guardian over elderly individuals who have substantial assets. Marla can been seen taking control over their assets, placing them in assisted living facilities, selling off their homes and assets. There are even instances where she denies a man access to his mother. Without spoiling the movie, the underlying plot has been shocking to people. Unfortunately, guardianships happen all too frequently; and sometimes abuse does happen.  And, we see these situations in real life – not just in the movies.

A guardian is the person who has the legal authority to care for the person and property interests of another person. A guardianship is typically used for an incapacitated individual, for a minor, or for a developmentally disabled/incompetent adult.

A guardianship proceeding begins when there is no legal document in place indicating who is to care for an individual in effect. The most frequent reason that a court appoints a guardian is when an individual does not have a Power of Attorney or Living Will in place.

As stated above, the guardian can be responsible for an individual’s person or property, or both.

In order to avoid having the court appoint someone you may not know as your guardian, you can decide who in your life that you trust would be your agent under a Power of Attorney and Living Will. Everyone should have these documents in place to reaffirm their wishes if they are unable to communicate it later in life.

If an individual is not sure who they can trust or even if their most trustworthy contacts live far away, they can name their attorney as their agent.

If someone has an incapacitated child 18 years of age or older, they can also begin the guardianship proceedings themselves in order to be appointed as their child’s legal guardian. This would still keep the control within the family and would avoid an outside party being necessary.

If an individual proactively makes the choice as to who will be responsible for taking care of them and their affairs, they will limit the chances of being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous individual.

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About the Author

Andrew Bradley is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. and assists in the administration of the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. He holds two Associates Degrees from Camden County College and is a member of the Estate & Financial Planning Council of Southern New Jersey.

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  1. Katherine Gizzi says:

    Thanks for letting people know what can happen to them and their estates if they don’t have a guardian appointed to them, to watch over them and protect them so they are not taking advantage of, if they ever have a situation arise such as this. It’s a very frightful situation.

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