As some people age, they may lose their ability to think clearly and to make informed decisions. If you are caring for an elderly loved one who is no longer able to make rational decisions about his or her finances, health care or other important areas, you might want to seek guardianship of him or her. Elder Care Direction has professionals who can explain how you might get guardianship and what to expect in the process.
What Is Guardianship?
Guardianship is a legal relationship that can be established when an incapacitated person has not granted powers of attorney for his or her finances and health care. A person’s legal guardian is given the power to make decisions for the incapacitated person. In order for you to serve as your loved one’s legal guardian, you must petition the court to request that your loved one is declared to be incompetent. If your loved one is determined to be incompetent, the court may order you to be appointed as his or her guardian. This means that you will be responsible for managing his or her finances, making medical decisions and determining his or her living arrangements. The process involved may take an extended period of time and cost money. If your family members do not agree about who should be the guardian or if a guardian is even needed, it can be very costly.
What are court-appointed guardians?
Court-appointed guardians are people who have been granted the authority to handle the affairs of an incapacitated person by the court. When a guardian is appointed, the ward will lose many of his or her rights. Guardians must act in the best interests of their wards. They are able to make decisions for their wards and can manage their finances, make health care decisions, sell their property or arrange their admissions into nursing homes.
Who can serve as a guardian?
The court will hold a hearing to determine whether the person who is requesting to be appointed as a guardian is qualified for the role. If there are several people who are seeking guardianship, the court will decide which one to appoint. In many states, family members are given preference. If there isn’t a family member who is qualified or willing to serve as a guardian, a public or professional guardian may be appointed.
When will the court appoint a guardian?
Courts will only appoint guardians if they are presented with evidence that the elderly people are mentally incapacitated in some or all of their life areas. The elderly people have the right to object to having a guardian appointed and to be represented by an attorney.
What guardians do
What you might be allowed to do will depend on the extent of your loved one’s incapacity and may include the following responsibilities:
- Deciding where the ward will live
- Monitoring the ward’s residence
- Consenting to medical treatments
- Deciding how to manage the ward’s finances
- Paying bills
- Managing real and personal property
- Consenting to non-medical services
- Keeping expense records
- Releasing confidential information
- Serving as a representative payee
- Making end-of-life decisions
- Reporting to the court
Do Guardians Receive Compensation?
Guardians who are appointed by the court are entitled to be reasonably compensated for their services. Family members normally do not charge the wards, however. Public or private guardians are normally paid directly by teh ward’s estate. Courts must approve the amount of compensation in most cases, and the guardians must provide a full accounting for their services, the time they spend and their costs.
Contact Elder Care Direction
If you believe that your elderly loved one is no longer able to make sound decisions, you might want to consider petitioning the court for a guardian to be appointed. The professionals at Elder Care Direction can answer your questions and explain what you might expect. Call us today to learn more about how we can help you.