In an ideal world, our family relationships would all be positive and helpful. We would manage transitional times cooperatively, smoothly, and with virtually no disagreement. As our parents grew older, it would be a simple process to meet their current needs and their changing future needs. Seeking guardianship of an elderly parent would not be needed.
The reality, however, is that being an adult child to aging parents can be tumultuous. It’s difficult to identify when to step up and help, and when to step back in order to not step on your parents’ toes. And, there may be instances when your time and effort to help are met with opposition – even when you recognize that help is necessary for their protection and safety.
A good first step is to make sure the senior has designated both a medical power of attorney and power of attorney. The person or persons trusted with these roles will have the authority to make financial and health-related decisions on behalf of the senior if he or she were to become incapable of doing so.
Nevertheless, even if you are the designated power of attorney/medical power of attorney for a senior parent, you might consider going one step further and petitioning for guardianship. This is well worth investigating if:
- The senior’s home or other property needs to be sold
- Medical intervention is necessary
- Dementia or any other cognitive function limitations are impacting the person’s decision-making ability
Additionally, there is the option for limited guardianship, if the senior is capable of retaining control in certain aspects of life, while other areas are compromised.
Simple tips to apply for guardianship
- First, schedule a consultation with the senior’s doctor, who will need to determine if guardianship is needed and complete a form attesting to the older adult’s mental and physical functioning.
- You can then file for guardianship at a probate court. The court will run a criminal background check, assess your monetary responsibilities, and investigate whether there are any conflicts of interest.
- You are then legally bound to inform both the senior and family members (as specified within the estate code) of your intent to obtain guardianship.
- Finally, the court will appoint an attorney to represent the senior, and a decision will be made to identify what is in his/her best interest.