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When do I need Guardianship over my aging parents or disabled relative?

Just the other day I was asked about  guardianship for aging parents and when it was needed.  A guardianship is another planning tool in handling your aging parents and disabled relative’s affairs, and can be granted either in a crisis situation or as a planned next step.

Guardianship come in two types, voluntary and involuntary (please note these are not legal terms, but rather descriptions of a guardianship can procedural go).  In a voluntary guardianship, the person, whom you are seeking the guardianship over, agrees that the Guardianship is in their best interest.  They consent to the Guardianship, through their appointed attorney, which makes the procedure move very smoothly.

In an involuntary guardianship, the person does not agree to the guardianship or cannot participate in the case due to their health.  If the person cannot participate, then, like the voluntary guardianship, the cases tend to be rather short and perfunctory.

But if the person does not agree, you have a much harder time getting the guardianship and it can take a much longer time.  This is most commonly seen when a person does not believe they are having any problems, despite evidence to the contrary.

The timing of a guardianship will depend on what other documents and plans have been made for the person.  If you have a power of attorney and a health care directive already, a guardianship can be done more at your leisure.  But without those documents, and you feel you need a guardianship, it may be too late to create a power of attorney or healthcare directive, making the Guardianship an immediate need.

One other point to make about guardianship, they are necessary to deal with some Government agencies, on behalf of your relative.  Some agencies, like Social Security, do not accept power of attorneys, thus without a guardianship, they will not have any communication with you or allow you to make changes without the person present, competent, and able to give consent.

A guardianship for your aging parents or disabled relative should be one part of a comprehensive plan in your care of this person.  Call today to discuss your current situation and to see if a guardianship is the right next step for you.