Recognizing the fact that your parent has turned into someone who can’t fend for his or herself anymore can be a grim discovery. If this is the case, you can turn to a guardianship attorney for professional legal advice.
Guardianship may be your option if you have delayed getting all the legal documentation (living will and power of attorney) in order before your parent can participate in making decisions about his or her well-being.
It’s a complex – and not to mention invasive – process that most people would want to be the last resort. However, should guardianship be necessary, we’ll share the basics of it in this post.
Definition of Guardianship
A court-appointed guardian is someone granted with legal authority to make crucial decisions over another individual’s property and health. In some cases, there is a guardian to oversee a senior’s health and well-being, and there is a conservator to handle a senior’s property.
A guardian, however, is not eligible to look over the finances of a senior. There are some cases wherein a guardian can sign care or medical agreements that cover financial components. In any case, it’s important to seek the legal guidance of a guardianship attorney before taking on the responsibilities of a guardian.
Appointing a Guardian for a Senior
The state court appoints a guardian of an elderly person. The specific process of guardian appointment differs from state to state. In general, however, those who want to be appointed as a guardian must file the necessary paperwork and appear before a judge.
The senior you want to represent, as well as his or her family, is then notified of your application. They are allowed the option to contest or challenge your proposal.
If the senior is capable, he or she may need to appear before the court. The judge will want to make sure that the senior has a complete understanding of the proceedings. There are some cases where the judge appoints another guardianship attorney to represent the senior.
Once you have acquired the approval of the state court, your guardianship responsibilities can now start.
There are some instances when you may be needed to discuss the status or any update on your guardianship-related duties. You may also need to get approval for any major decisions you need to make on behalf of the senior you are looking after.
When Is Guardianship Needed?
As you know, a power of attorney is granted when a senior individual is still mentally and physically able to make important decisions about their life. A power of attorney primarily contains the transfer of financial and legal authorities to an individual trusted by the senior.
A guardianship, on the other hand, is ordered and administered by a court, specifically when legal definitions incapacitate the senior.
This situation comes up frequently when a senior has Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. These conditions render a senior no longer able to make sensible decisions about their property or health.
Guardianship Proceedings Are Not the Norm
This procedure is not common. A guardianship attorney would be helpful to have in your corner, especially when you can’t agree with your family on certain financial, medical, and legal matters about your senior loved one.
The process of acquiring guardianship can get time-consuming and costly, not to mention the hearing itself can be invasive to your senior loved one’s privacy and stressful to everyone involved. For these important considerations, make guardianship your last resort as much as possible.
If you do decide to apply for guardianship of your senior loved one, employ the services of an experienced guardianship attorney. It’s also vital to reach out to your family members and try to address and discuss any concerns they may have.