The Population Research Bureau projects that by 2060 (just 40 years from now), there will be 95 million Americans older than 65. That’s an increase of 52 million people from 2018!
Who will care for this growing population of older people? How will good decisions about their finances, health, and well-being be made?
The reality is that the longer we all live, the more likely we will at some point need assistance making important decisions about money, health, and housing. We may even require assistance with routine decisions, like how to vote, whether or not to drive and what to eat.
Guardianship is an important part of the public solution to the challenges created as our lives become longer.
What Is Guardianship? Who Can Be A Guardian?
As defined by the National Guardianship Association (NGA) guardianship, also known as conservatorship, is: a legal process, utilized when a person can no longer make or communicate safe or sound decisions about his/her person and/or property or has become susceptible to fraud or undue influence.
Historically, most caregiving, for the elderly, including decision-making has been done by family members. The trends of smaller families and increased divorce are resulting in the decreased availability of family members to help. Even when family caregivers are available, the needs of the growing number of older people coping with major illnesses like dementia and Alzheimers can be overwhelming. Read more.
Governed by state laws, judges can appoint one or more guardians upon determination that an individual lacks the capacity to make personal, financial and property decisions on their own behalf. According to the NGA, in most states, a guardian is an individual, who is 18 and without a felony conviction and not in need of a guardian themself. A guardian can be a family member or an unrelated professional. Public or private institutions can also serve the role of guardians, but cannot provide housing. For money or property matters, financial institutions can act as guardians too.
What Are The Duties of a Guardian?
Guardians are “fiduciaries”—they are legally bound to make sound decisions about the care, finances and property of those they are charged with protecting. Once a guardian is appointed, the court is responsible for monitoring the guardian’s actions. Guardians must act according to the person’s values and best interest, and they must keep good records and file reports as directed by the court. If the reports or accounting shows a possible problem, the court may send out an investigator or call the guardian in for a hearing.
Standards—Including Guardian Bonds
It is never easy to make decisions on behalf of another. Good intentions alone can be insufficient for the depth of challenges confronting guardians. That’s why the NGA works for uniform, high standards across the country and provides guardians with resources and education to support them in their duties.
Among the issues addressed by the NGA Standards of Practice are informed consent; confidentiality; and, safeguarding personal freedom to the greatest extent possible.
When guardians are appointed by the court, they are generally required to present a guardianship bond prior to beginning their service. This bond, also known as a custodian bond, is a type of fiduciary bond. The purpose is to ensure a guardian will act in the best interest of the person they are appointed to represent, while following all orders of the court and applicable state law. Essentially, a guardianship bond protects the person subject to guardianship from the malfeasance of the guardian.
Understanding the stresses related to becoming a guardian, Colonial Surety Company helps by making it easy to promptly obtain the required guardianship bond. At Colonial Surety Company, we offer I-bonds® or instant surety bond for direct quote, purchase, print, or e-file at your convenience. If you are stepping into the role of guardian, you can get your bond quickly through your mobile device, tablet, or computer. Click here.
Good To Know: Count the Elderly In on Census 2020
The unprecedented growth of the elderly population means it’s more important then ever to count our seniors—so that services can be allocated to address their needs. It’s not too late — and for the first time ever, the Census can even be done online.
Every ten years, the USA conducts a population count—the Census. The results play a big role in determining budgets and services at the federal, state and local levels. As Senior Planet News reports, the Census data informs so many of the decisions that impact the elderly and their caregivers. Examples include, Medicare, healthcare, senior centers, caregiver services and more.