One of the most difficult challenges for many people with aging parents is when a parent reaches a point where they no longer have the cognitive or mental capacity to make rational decisions. What if you know that you need to take over at least some aspects of a parent or other loved one’s care – such as managing their finances – but they insist that they don’t need help or intervention?
Maybe an elderly parent who’s living alone is a danger to themselves or others because they forget to turn off the stove or lock the door. Perhaps you fear that they’ll become the victim of scammers because they believe every email they read from a “Nigerian prince” or readily give out their checking account number to anyone who calls and asks for it.
By obtaining guardianship of a loved one, you can see that they live in a safe environment, like an assisted living or memory care facility. You can obtain the right to manage their finances, pay their bills and ensure that their money is being saved or spent wisely.
Presenting your case to the court
Your loved one has rights, however. You can’t just start making decisions for them or move them out of their home without their permission. If they reject the idea of guardianship, you need to apply for it through the court. That means you’ll have to prove: 1) that your loved one requires a guardian and 2) that you are the appropriate guardian for them. The court will want to know what your plan is to care for them.
Often a person who requires a guardian has already been diagnosed with dementia. However, people can start to become impaired long before being diagnosed. In some cases, a traumatic event, like a serious brain injury, can cause someone of any age to suffer cognitive impairment.
Once you obtain guardianship, the court has the authority to oversee your actions to ensure that you’re properly caring for your loved one’s finances, health and everyday needs. Therefore, it’s essential that you’re up to the task before you seek to take it on. If you’re considering applying for guardianship of a parent or other loved one, an elder law attorney can help you understand the process and present your case effectively.