Preparing estates can be done by individuals easily enough. But in order to best ensure that your wishes are accounted for, it may be prudent to bring in support. Trusted individuals, a spouse or your children — people you trust can be granted certain powers in the unlikely event of you losing your faculties or becoming incapacitated by injury. But there are other options beyond signing away your rights to a single guardian.

A guardian, as defined by the state of Virginia, is “an individual appointed by the Court who is responsible for an adult’s personal affairs”. This includes a laundry list of responsibilities like making decisions over care and treatment. It is a level of authority that implies a great deal of trust.

As further detailed in the Virginia brochure Appointment of Guardians and Conservators for Incapacitated Adults, there are other options. Durable power of attorney, medical or otherwise, allows an individual to make decisions on your behalf in a particular field. Medical for care reasons and financial for money and property decisions.

Representative Payees are individuals that can receive and manage your social security benefits on your behalf.

If the authority that comes with guardianship seems too overreaching, there are steps that can be taken to provide individuals with limited guardianship or limited conservatorship. This process will detail specific decisions that an individual can make as well as preserve many rights that are usually suspended or revoked during a full guardianship.

When it comes to planning your later years, it is vital to know the options ahead of you and how you can best arrange for your wishes and rights to be preserved.