It’s never easy watching people we love struggle. Especially if those loved ones are older – maybe your grandparent, aunt or uncle, or even your own parents. These are people who raised you, helped you grow into the person you are now, and to see them struggle can break your heart. If you’re watching a loved one suffer with financial, legal, medical, and psychological issues that come with aging, consider how you can step in and help. Speaking with an adult guardianship attorney can help you understand your options and take the best course of action.
What Does a Guardian Do?
An adult guardian can have a great deal of control and influence over the person who is their “ward.” The guardian is responsible for making sure that the ward receives proper medical care and is not physically or emotionally neglected. They are responsible for choosing and maintaining quality living and care facilities. They are responsible for the person’s finances. On one hand, this can mean the guardian has a great deal of control over the ward’s life – selecting where they live, which doctor they go to, and who can have access to them. But on the other hand, there is a great deal of responsibility, as everyone else in the family knows that you are the guardian and are responsible for keeping your family’s loved one safe, comfortable, and cared for.
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Age, Incapacitation, and the Need for Guardianship
Many adults may need someone to intervene on their behalf as they age and become less capable of taking care of themselves. Medical conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s can severely impair an elderly adult’s decision-making abilities, and physical conditions may prevent them from being able to physically take care of themselves. In addition, their hearing or eyesight may not be as keen as it once was, and others who are aware of that may try to take advantage of the people you love.
Additionally, some adults become incapacitated and no longer able to take care of themselves. Some adults who were physically or mentally disabled as children will continue to need guardianship as adults, to ensure that all their needs are being met. Adults who have suffered an injury or illness that leaves them capacitated can certainly benefit from the services of an experienced adult guardianship attorney, who will help you look at any personal injury or disability claims that might be filed in addition to guardianship paperwork.
If your adult family member has become incapacitated and unable to make legal decisions for themselves, an adult guardianship attorney can help point you in the direction of what to do next. As they guide your family toward the best solution, they help you set up a situation that will provide for your family member’s long-term success.
Questions for An Adult Guardianship Attorney
When you meet with an attorney, you will have a number of general questions that apply to all adult guardianship scenarios, as well as a few specific ones about your particular situation. Get all of them answered! Make a list before you go, so you can be sure to get all the information you need to make the best choice.
A few questions you might ask the adult guardianship attorney include:
- Can two (or more) people act as co-guardians?
- Does appointing a guardian to someone remove any of their legal rights?
- Can a person with a guardian own property, live alone, and make their own financial decisions?
- Is guardianship the same as Power of Attorney? Which is best for my situation?
- Can a person with a guardian refuse medical treatment or does the guardian have the final say over medical procedures and treatments?
- What are the regulations that the guardian must follow and to whom do they report?
Of course, add to this list! Make sure that whatever issues you are concerned about get addressed. You won’t be able to foresee every possible concern, and you may have to have the guardianship amended at a later date, but the more thorough you can be from the beginning should help you eliminate issues later down the road.
Objecting to Another’s Guardianship
Sometimes, a guardianship situation needs to change. Maybe one person was appointed guardian because they lived in the same town at the time, but then they moved away. Maybe the person who was appointed guardian has fallen ill or is otherwise unable to perform the duties of their guardianship. Whatever the case, if you would like to contest someone else’s guardianship over an adult loved one, speak with an adult guardianship attorney to find out your options and the process for changing the status quo.