What do you do when an adult loved one starts having trouble managing their affairs? Oftentimes, as they get older, our parents, grandparents, family or friends begin to lose their ability to competently manage their money and property. Sometimes unscrupulous persons take advantage of the elderly and improperly take their money. The elderly and disabled may also get confused about or not understand their medical or other health care needs. All of these situations may be due to physical or mental ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, illness or injury.
Those who have properly planned for these situations have a General Durable Power of Attorney and an Advanced Healthcare Directive or Medical Power of Attorney naming the person or persons they want to make decisions for them regarding their finances and health care in case they become unable to do so themselves. (See Estate Planning page to learn more about this.) However, many people fail to plan in these regards, or the planning they have done is outdated or incomplete.
If you have a loved one who needs assistance to manage their affairs, you may wish to consult with me regarding the filing of a Guardianship Petition. Through a Guardianship Petition, you can be designated by the Court to act as a disabled person’s Guardian to make financial and/or medical decisions for them.
A Guardianship should not be undertaken lightly. Good legal advice is essential in this process. The legal proceedings and compliance with the Court’s rules regarding Guardianships can be confusing and complicated. Sometimes disputes arise between family members as to who should be the Guardian of a loved one. A Guardianship carries with it a lot of duties and responsibilities for the Guardian, and it is overseen by the Court. However, knowing that a disabled loved one’s finances and medical care are being managed by someone with their best interests at heart can give families a lot of peace of mind.