Establishing guardianship of your elderly parents is always difficult to do. You may know intellectually that they aren’t capable of taking care of themselves or making sound financial decisions, but it can be difficult to get them to admit there is a problem. Many families wait too long before deciding who should become a guardian and end up having to take extra measures in court to protect their parents’ assets, health and safety. If you’ve tried to discuss these issues with your family members unsuccessfully, you may need to meet with elder lawyers who can guide you through the difficult court process.
What Does Guardianship Of A Parent Or Parents Entail?
When you become the legal guardian of a parent, you are essentially taking over all decisions for that person, including financial, medical, housing and personal safety considerations. You will have control over their finances, but will be expected by the court to make money decisions that are in your parent’s best interests, which may not be the same as yours. You will also have the right to choose their living arrangements, transportation when needed, and a host of other daily decisions that can become overwhelming. Meeting with elder lawyers before filing for guardianship can be extremely valuable, as they will explain just how much work is involved in being a guardian.
Controlling Family Disagreements
Siblings often discover that they don’t have the same goals or expectations when it comes to handling parents’ guardianship issues. Some children will hesitate to take autonomy from their mother or father even after all signs show that their parents can no longer care for themselves. Others may not agree about who should become the guardian. In some cases, meeting with elder lawyers as a family can help you sort out these issues. If an agreement can’t be reached, a litigation lawyer may end up representing part of the family — contesting another sibling’s application for guardianship in court. Experienced elder lawyers can help minimize these potential problems if the entire family is kept in the loop during the proceedings.
Establishing Guardianship In Court
Elder lawyers will draw up the legal documents needed to file for guardianship in court, but they will rely on you to provide them with the concrete evidence needed to determine that a parent is incompetent. You will have to prove in court that your parent or parents aren’t healthy enough or of sound mind to make logical decisions. Evidence of money squandered, poor medical decisions, and neglect of their home or personal hygiene can all become part of the proceedings. Your parents may hire their own litigation lawyer to contest your petition to become their guardian, but try to understand that they are trying to keep control of their own lives. It isn’t a situation that has to destroy your love for them.
You’ve Become A Guardian: Now The Work Begins
Elder lawyers can help you long after you’ve been assigned the guardianship of your mother, father or both. The responsibility you have as their guardian will include:
??? A responsibility to protect as much of their independence as possible
??? Monitoring their living conditions, including whether or not they are practicing sufficient self-care
??? The power to release confidential information as needed
??? Paying bills using their money
??? Protecting their money to the best of your ability
??? Choosing a nursing care facility when needed
??? Reporting to the courts at least once a year on your parents’ progress and the state of their finances
You’ll have a full plate, but elder lawyers can answer your questions and guide you toward valuable social resources if you consult with them on a regular basis. In many cases, you can avoid a litigation lawyer if you and your siblings are willing to meet regularly and review the guardianship with elder lawyers who can help you make the best possible choices for your parents, your family and yourself.