Guardianship Of Person And Estate: How To Help An Aging Loved One That Can No Longer Take Care Of Themself

Although many people create a durable power of attorney when they do estate planning, not everyone has a plan for their future in the event that they become incapacitated. If you have a loved one who is no longer able to care for their own needs, they are at risk for exploitation if a responsible party doesn't step in for protection. When you are concerned about a parent, aunt or close friend and there isn't anyone helping them make big decisions, it may be time to consider a guardianship of the person.

A Legal Guardianship Requires Court Approval

If the individual did not assign someone to be their durable power of attorney or guardian in the event they became confused or disoriented, a legal guardianship can be filed on their behalf. This paperwork often requires the help of an elder law attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure all of the correct paperwork is submitted to the court. You will have to have a physician's affidavit that outlines why the person needs a guardian, and how long they may need one. If the court agrees that the person does need a guardian, this will be approved by the judge on the case. Whether you are assigned as the legal guardian or you want a professional guardian to take over will be up to your comfort level and ability to help the individual.

When You Become a Legal Guardian

If you have successfully petitioned the court to become a loved one's legal guardian and you now have the responsibility, it's time to have a careful conversation with the individual. While they may not understand all that you are asking in this conversation, you may be able to piece together what their wishes are if you listen carefully. As a legal guardian, you are now responsible for their welfare. You may have to make medical decisions, you may have to pay their bills or liquidate their assets, and you may even have to make the decision to place the individual into a nursing home. 

When you are a legal guardian, this is a huge responsibility, but there are many rewards. You will be at peace knowing that you now have the ability to take care of your loved one, and you can help them make the decisions they need to make in order to stay healthy and safe in their home or in a facility. Contact a professional like Edward G. Foster to learn more.