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Guardianship and conservatorship: a powerful legal solution to addiction!

Spouses, parents, siblings, children, loved ones, and friends of an addict often seek help, advice, and support for the addict. What they sometimes fail to seek, however, is legal help.

· Guardianship,Conservatorship,Addiction

Guardianship and conservatorship: a powerful legal solution to addiction!

Being the spouse, parent, sibling, child, loved one, or friend of an addict is difficult. Addiction is a destructive disease not only for the addict, but for all the people that love him or her. Seeing someone you love succumb to addiction can leave you feeling powerless. However, there is a viable legal solution!

Being the spouse, parent, sibling, child, loved one, or friend of an addict does not mean you have to be powerless. Guardianship and conservatorship afford you increased legal power and authority to help the addict overcome his or her addiction.

Ask yourself: If a judge granted me total control over the addict, would I be in a better position to help him or her overcome his or her addiction?

If you answered "yes," then read on. A guardianship and conservatorship may be a step in the right direction for you and the addict.

How do I know if guardianship and conservatorship are right for the addict?

In Alabama, guardianship and conservatorship are awarded where addicts are deemed to be "incapacitated." An addict is "incapacitated" if he or she is "impaired by reason of . . . chronic use of drugs . . . to the extent of lacking sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions."

Most addicts lack sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions. In legal terms, that means the addict is "incapacitated." An incapacitated addict needs assistance making and communicating responsible decisions. Many addicts will not seek addiction treatment on their own. Treatment does not have to be voluntary to be successful, and guardianship and conservatorship can be an effective legal tool to help move the addict closer to recovery.

Ask yourself: Is the addict incapacitated?

If you answered "yes," then you may be able to file for guardianship and conservatorship, which will give you the legal power and authority to help the addict by making life-changing decisions for him or her.

What is guardianship?

Guardianship is a powerful tool to help you help the addict. Guardianship allows a person, usually a parent or spouse, to be named as the "guardian" of the addict. A guardian is responsible for the addict's health, support, education, and maintenance, but is not liable to others for the acts of the addict.

Probably the most powerful authority a guardian possesses is the power to limit or enforce the addict's right to visitation or communication with anyone, including the right to visit others or receive visitors, make or receive telephone calls, and send or receive text messages, social media messages, and personal mail.

Ask yourself: If I was able to limit the addict's right to visitation and communication with others (especially other addicts), would it help the addict?

If you answered "yes," then an emergency, temporary, or permanent guardianship may be a step in the right direction.

What is conservatorship?

Conservatorship is a powerful tool to help you help the addict. A conservatorship allows a person, usually a parent or spouse, to be named as the conservator of the addict. A conservator is responsible for managing the addict's money and property.

Most addicts have little to no money or property, so there's not much to manage, which makes the job of a conservator very easy. If the addict is wasting his or her inheritance, trust proceeds, paycheck, or other money, the conservator can take control of the money and manage it wisely, providing for the addict's needs rather than his or her addiction.

Ask yourself: If I was able to manage the addict's money and property, would it help the addict?

If you answered "yes," then a conservatorship may be a step in the right direction.

What if the addict is an adult?

Guardianship and conservatorship are available for adults who are "incapacitated."

The beauty of guardianship and conservatorship is that it applies to adults.

When the addiction ends, will my guardianship and conservatorship end as well?

Once the addict fully recovers from his or her addiction, your job is done. After a hearing before the judge, the addict may resume his or her life as an independent person, making and communicating responsible decisions.

Guardianship and conservatorship are powerful tools geared toward helping the addict overcome his or her addiction. Your support doesn't stop when the addiction ends, it simply changes from oversight to support and empowerment.

Ask yourself: If I was able to help the addict overcome his or her addiction and have the judge validate the addict's success, would I be willing to allow the addict to regain his or her independence?

If you answered "yes," then guardianship and conservatorship may be a step in the right direction.

Do I have to have an attorney to assist with filing for guardianship and conservatorship?

No. But if you have questions as to how to get started and what the process entails, it is a good indication that you need the assistance of an attorney.

An attorney well versed in the Alabama Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act can help reduce stress and costly mistakes in court.

Ask yourself: If I worked with a helpful, knowledgeable attorney, would it help me and the addict throughout the process?

If you answered "yes," then you need the assistance of an attorney.

Many addicts will not seek addiction treatment on their own. Treatment does not have to be voluntary to be successful, and guardianship and conservatorship can be an effective legal tool to help move the addict closer to recovery.

A former Special Judge of Probate, Brent Helms heard and ruled on guardianship and conservatorship cases as a judge. As an attorney, he focuses his practice on probate law.

Alabama State Bar, Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 7.2 (e), requires the following language in all attorney communications: No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

This blog post is made available by Helms Law Group, LLC for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. This blog post should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.

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