Building a Care Committee

I get a lot of information in my in-box and have over the years found myself drawn to certain sources of industry information.  The New York Times' blog; "The New Old Age" is of particular interest.  In September, a contributor to the blog; Ms. Paula Span wrote a piece for the blog; "When There Is No Family".  This piece explores the options for health care decision making and especially speaks to those individuals where "family" isn't or shouldn't be the option for their health care proxy. I recently had the opportunity to speak to the principal of a local guardianship about Ms. Span's article and her suggestion around forming a care committee (a cadre of friends and professionals that have been authorized by the individual to handle a variety of eventual decisions).  My question to Holly Surface, CPG (certified, professional guardian) Abacus Guardianship was how might someone identify that a professional care manager or a guardian might be a good option to bring into the proposed "care committee"?  Here is Holly's response; "A guardian should be a consideration when an individual may lack capacity and needs assistance with management of health and/or financial affairs. A care manager would be more appropriate when an individual has sufficient capacity to provide informed consent or manage their finances and would be able to complete a Power of Attorney. Guardianship is only a consideration in the event an individual lacks legal capacity to manage their affairs. A guardian is appointed by the Superior Court subsequent to an investigation resulting in a finding that an individual is at risk and lacks sufficient capacity to manage their personal, medical or financial affairs. The legal standard for such a finding is demonstrated risk – that an individual is at significant risk of personal harm based upon a demonstrated inability to adequately provide for nutrition, health, housing, or physical safety, or when an individual is at significant risk of financial harm based upon a demonstrated inability to adequately manage property or financial affairs. Examples of demonstrated risk for an individual with health issues include an inability to arrange medical appointments, transportation to and from the appointment, provide a relevant medical history to a health care provider, or take medication as directed. An example of demonstrated risk for an individual with financial issues include an inability to pay bills, ensure consistent housing and utility services, obtain adequate cash to purchase necessities such as groceries, or complete insurance forms to provide for healthcare services. An individual may demonstrate risk of harm to their person and/or estate in many ways, however a court will not impose guardianship if a lesser restrictive alternative is available. Some examples are a Power of Attorney, with a trusted individual nominated to handle medical and financial affairs in the event of incapacity, or a Trust with a trustee to manage assets and possibly to assist with other needed services. If an individual meets the legal standard of demonstrated risk and no lesser restrictive alternatives are available, guardianship is a likely possibility." Holly A. Surface, C.P.G.; Abacus Guardianship, Inc.