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Guardianship case highlights need for advance planning

There are times in a person's life when he or she may no longer be able to make personal choices. Perhaps that person doesn't have family able or living nearby to care for him or her. In this instance, a Massachusetts court may appoint someone to be that person's guardian. A guardianship is meant to protect the subject of the agreement and ensure that he or she receives needed care. Unfortunately, there are times when even the professionals don't hold to that duty

Recently, a court-appointed guardian from out of state lost her appeal regarding a judge's previous ruling. The court found that she was in violation of state regulations with several of her clients. She stands accused of filing "do no resuscitate" orders on clients who did not ask for such, nor did any of their family members. When one of her clients died, she was arrested for aggravated abuse and neglect of an elderly person. 

The guardian resigned all of her clients after the incident. The state also alleges that she failed to properly handle her clients' finances and fraudulently billed health care providers for her services. The case brought attention to the entire guardianship program in that state and lawmakers are in the process of overhauling the legislation around the matter.

Though this happened in another state, families here in Massachusetts can learn a great deal from the case. It is imperative that those who are unable to make their own choices have a trusted person to do so for them. A guardianship may be the best solution. Those who have questions about this facet of estate planning may want to consult an attorney who works in this area of the law.

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