What You Need to Know About Elderly GuardianshipOctober 15, 2018
If you have an elderly person in your life who is no longer able to care for himself or herself, there are some legal things to consider.
Elderly guardianship, or elderly conservatorship, is a legal term for a relationship between a court appointed individual caring for an elderly person who is no longer able to do so for himself or herself.
An appointed guardian has certain duties and responsibilities to the elderly person, so it’s wise to get educated on the process and the factors to consider.
Here are some things you need to know about Elderly Guardianship, when to consider it and how to get it:
When an elderly person becomes unable to care for himself or herself, which could include not remembering to take necessary medications, maintaining regular hygiene, or properly managing finances, it may be in his or her best interest if a court appoints a guardian.
Different states have different guardianship processes and requirements, but generally speaking, the following people or entities can petition a court to designate a guardian for elderly conservatorship:
• The elderly person
• A spouse or domestic partner of the elderly person
• A relative of the elderly person
• A friend of the elderly person
• A state or local government agency
As far as the duties and responsibilities of a guardian, they all start and end with that the guardian putting the interests of the elderly person first. They may include deciding where the elderly person will live, how to keep the elderly person as healthy as possible, how to prepare a budget based on the elderly person’s finances, and how to handle recreation and social contact.
The elderly guardianship process can be extensive and complex. This is understandable, since this means the elderly person will lose some vital rights and have his or her care entrusted to another person.
The process usually involves the following:
• Filing a Petition for Appointment of Conservator form
• Informing the elderly person, along with his or her relatives, of the petition for guardianship
• A court investigator determining whether the proposed guardianship is necessary
• A court hearing so the judge can review the guardianship petition and determine whether the elderly person lacks the ability to care for himself or herself, and decides whether to grant the petition
Guardianship petitions are usually expensive, and can involve numerous forms to fill out, many procedural requirements, and several court hearings – and become even more complex and with significant consequences if there’s any opposition to a proposed guardianship.
Depending on the state you live in, possible alternatives to elderly guardianship include:
• Living Trust
• Representative Payeeship
• Power of Attorney
• Standby Guardianship
All of these possible alternatives involve the elderly person willingly assigning his or her rights to another person, but if he or she is unable to do so because of mental incapacity, they are no longer available.
If you’re considering an elderly guardianship for yourself or for a loved one, or if you’re thinking about serving as a guardian, you should consult with an experienced and trustworthy lawyer.
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