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Compassion, talent and dedication: guiding colorado families and Their Trusted Advisors During Times of Need

Being the guardian of a vulnerable adult in Colorado, part 1

Life can take an unexpected turn and you could end up in a place you did not anticipate. A child or sibling with a developmental disability, mental health problem, rare disease or physical impairment grows up and is unable to care for themselves as an adult. Your adult relative is in an accident that leaves them with severe injuries, taking away their ability to meet their own needs. Your elderly parent who has aged so robustly develops dementia or becomes physically frail.

In so many situations, you can find yourself having to decide how to protect a vulnerable loved one physically, medically, emotionally, financially and spiritually. There are different legal options, depending on the circumstances, but guardianship under Colorado state law may make sense. A guardian is primarily responsible for their ward’s direct care, health needs, housing, personal belongings and other property, and overall well-being.

An attorney who regularly works with individuals and families facing this situation can describe the available vehicles and if you decide on guardianship, legal counsel will prepare the petition and related legal documents to file in court. A lawyer can also advise you on the choices for financial protections, including conservatorship. While the same person cannot be both guardian and conservator, a guardian may wear another hat that provides financial protections like an agent under a financial power of attorney or a representative payee to manage Social Security payments.

An attorney can help the guardian with annual guardianship reporting responsibilities required under state law. The guardian must file with the court each year a comprehensive report on the ward’s health, living arrangements, services, involvement of the ward in making decisions involving their own life and more.

In addition to developing a relationship with a trusted legal adviser, some other suggestions may help you expand your guardian toolkit. Stay tuned for part 2.

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