Guardianship isn’t an all-or-nothing choice
No one likes to think of their parents as being less-than-capable of managing their own affairs, but illness and injury can reduce anyone’s ability to cope with life’s demands. Sometimes, it’s necessary to step in and take charge via a guardianship (also known as conservatorship).
If you think your parent needs help, then the first item of consideration is how much and what type of help do they need? Is it a permanent and all-encompassing situation? Or, is this likely to be a temporary issue? In addition to permanent and temporary guardianship, another option is a limited guardianship, which allows the guardian to control only the ward’s medical or financial matters. Finally, a co-guardianship provides for more than one conservator to split the duties, which may be especially helpful if a permanent conservatorship is required.
Before going to court, the person wishing to establish a guardianship must do their homework by gathering proof, in the form of a physician’s statement and other documents, of the elder’s need for protection. Once the need has been substantiated, it’s time to file your evidence as a petition to the court.
The next steps are designed to safeguard the elder’s rights. The judge appoints a lawyer to represent the elderly person. Also, copies of the petition are served to the potential ward and to other family members.
At the court hearing, the petitioner presents their case and the court-appointed lawyer (who has performed an independent investigation) will either concur with the request or present their own evidence. The judge makes the final decision about granting the conservatorship.
This is a simplified description of the process and it should be no surprise that there are lawyers specializing in this field who will be more than helpful in guiding you through the process. It’s best to consult with an expert in elder law before proceeding.