Disability Law Attorneys Serving Mequon, Wisconsin
Our office provides services related to the disability of minors and adults. Some of those services involve pre-planning for disability, such as through powers of attorney for finances and healthcare, which allows you as an individual to name a trusted person as your agent in situations where you may become mentally unable to handle your own financial or healthcare affairs.
Specifically to disabled minors and adults receiving Social Security Income and/or Medicaid benefits, our firm is poised to assist in establishing special needs trusts for the benefit of the disabled individuals. We are able to establish third-party special needs trusts through estate plans for parents of disabled children and/or adults, as well as establishing first-party special needs trusts for the disabled individuals themselves.
In addition to the above, sometimes clients come to us in situations where a loved one has started showing signs of infirmities of aging or mental illness, or the loved one is simply incapable of managing his or her own finances or caring for him or herself. If the individual did not pre-plan for their disabling condition (as in, does not have powers of attorney documents signed), a guardianship proceeding may be necessary.
In Wisconsin, there are two types of guardians: Guardian of the Person and a Guardian of the Estate. A Guardian of the Person makes personal decisions for the individual (also known as the “ward”), such as health care choices, and living arrangements for the ward. A Guardian of the Estate manages the ward’s financial affairs (i.e., pays bills, collects income, manages investments, etc.).
Initiating Guardianship proceedings with the court is a serious endeavor and requires experienced attorneys to guide you. Strict procedures must be followed, involving copious documentation and legal forms, which must be filed with the court. Also, at least one court hearing will be required in order to appoint the guardian, during which time the court will want to hear testimony from the ward, as well as the proposed guardian. What is often the case in these situations, is that an independent attorney, a Guardian ad Litem, will file a report and make a recommendation that the ward also be represented by counsel. The court is required to provide representation in these types of cases, as the court is being asked to take constitutionally-protected decision-making power away from the individual/ward in order to transfer that power to another person (the proposed Guardian).
At Malm & LaFave, S.C., we are experienced in Disability pre-planning, as well as available to assist in situations where Guardianship may be required.