In a perfect world, our family relationships would all be helpful and positive. We would manage transitional times smoothly, cooperatively, and with virtually no disagreement. As our parents grew older, it would be a simple process to fulfill their current needs and their needs in the future.
The reality, however, is that being an adult child to ageing parents can be tumultuous. It’s not easy to identify when to step in and help and when to step back in order to not step on your parents’ toes. And, there might be situations when your time and effort to help are met with opposition – even though you understand that help will become necessary for their protection and safety.
A great first step is to ensure the older adult has designated both a power of attorney and medical power of attorney. The person or persons entrusted with these roles will have the authority to make financial and health-related decisions on the part of the senior if she or he 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 may want to consider going one step further and petitioning for guardianship. Guardianship of an elderly parent is well worth exploring if:
The older adult'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
There is also the option for limited guardianship of an elderly parent, in the event that the senior is capable of retaining control in some facets of life, while other areas are compromised.
Simple Tips to File for Guardianship
First, schedule a consultation with the senior’s health care professional, who will need to determine whether guardianship is necessary and complete a form testifying to the senior’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 financial responsibilities, and explore whether there are any conflicts of interest.
You are then legally bound to notify both the older adult and family members (as outlined in the estate code) of your intent to acquire guardianship.
Lastly, the court will designate a lawyer to represent the older adult, and a determination will be made to identify what is in his/her best interest.