Akridge & Balch, P.C. | Attorneys at Law
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How can I know whether my aging parent needs guardianship?

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2023 | Estate Planning

As your loved ones age, paying close attention to their well-being becomes increasingly important. One of the challenging decisions families might face is determining when guardianship is necessary for aging parents.

Guardianship, also known as conservatorship, is the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of another person.

Recognizing the need for guardianship

As individuals age, their physical health is often compromised. Look for signs such as a decline in mobility, chronic health conditions or difficulty managing day-to-day activities. Guardianship may be a suitable option if you notice a significant deterioration in your parent’s physical well-being.

Aging can also inspire cognitive challenges, with conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s becoming more prevalent. Keep a watchful eye on your parent’s memory, noting instances of forgetfulness or confusion. Persistent cognitive decline may necessitate the establishment of guardianship.

Guardianship may also become essential if aging parents struggle to make informed and rational decisions, especially regarding their finances, healthcare and overall safety. If you observe a decline in their decision-making abilities, it may be time to explore legal guardianship options.

Legal steps to establish guardianship

Before pursuing guardianship, consult healthcare professionals to assess your parent’s physical and mental health. Medical opinions can provide valuable insights into the necessity and urgency of establishing guardianship.

To initiate the guardianship process, work with an attorney to file a petition with the court. Provide detailed evidence of your parent’s incapacity, including medical assessments and supporting documents. The court will carefully review the case before rendering a decision.

The role of a guardian

Guardians may be tasked with managing the financial affairs of aging parents. This includes budgeting, paying bills and making sound financial decisions on their behalf. In cases where the aging individual cannot make healthcare decisions independently, the guardian assumes the responsibility of making informed choices regarding medical treatments and interventions.

Recognizing the need for guardianship for aging parents requires carefully assessing their physical and cognitive well-being. If you’re unsure about establishing guardianship for your aging parents, seeking legal counsel can offer you the clarity you need to make this important decision one way or the other.