Chryssikos Law Firm

Adult Guardianships & You

Adult Guardianships & You

Adult Guardianships and Conservatorships are becoming more and more commonplace.  I believe this can, at least in part, be attributed to people living longer, resulting in people reaching advanced years and becoming unable to manage their own affairs.

Adult children are more frequently finding themselves in the position of having to seek adult guardianships/conservatorships to make decisions concerning their parents’ care and managing their finances when the parent becomes incapacitated or otherwise unable to handle their own affairs.

This can often lead to family conflict, particularly where there are multiple siblings arguing over what is best for the parent or how to best manage the parent’s finances.  It should surprise no one that these family squabbles frequently play out in probate court, resulting in the family incurring additional aggravation and legal fees.

So how can this be avoid this?  Can it be avoided?

There is no way to completely eliminate the possibility of needing an adult guardianship or conservatorship, but there are ways under Michigan law to minimize the risk.  The best method is to prepare a comprehensive estate plan, which may include a Trust, but in nearly every case includes a Power of Attorney and Patient Advocate Designation.  These documents, prepared while the individual is competent to do so, will memorialize the individual’s intent as to who he/she would like to manage their affairs, make health care decisions or end of life decisions and so forth.

While creating a comprehensive estate plan will prevent a significant amount of family dispute and litigation, it will not protect against it completely.  Issues can still arise over how the individual designated to make these decisions is carrying out his/her fiduciary duties and acting in the parent’s best interests and according to the parent’s wishes.  Certainly, a claim that the fiduciary is acting in their own interests rather than the parent’s is a valid concern and relatively common occurrence, particularly in cases where there is significant wealth.

Where a valid estate plan has been created, the court will always look to that first in the event of litigation.  Therefore, the best advice is to consult with an attorney to create such an estate plan.  My experience is that, where there are multiple siblings, include them in the discussion.  The more the family is involved and aware of the estate plan, the less likelihood of a dispute down the road.  Of course, this will vary from case to case and family to family and is even more complex in blended families where one or both parents have children from prior relationships or second families.

So whether you’re a parent or a child of a parent without an estate plan, seek out an experienced attorney to discuss these matters in greater detail in order to avoid family disputes and litigation down the road.

For more questions or information, please call us at (248) 290-0515 or visit us at

10.0James W. Chryssikos