How to Get Guardianship of a Parent – Webinar Program
How to get guardianship of a parent and how to file for guardianship are questions that adult children frequently ask. How can family caregivers provide support when an elderly parent with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or another health concern has difficulty managing day-to-day activities?
The ability to manage health and money may also be a worry for an aging adult who lives alone. If you live alone and have health concerns or memory loss, legal planning for your future is very important. You will want to make sure you choose the right person, family or otherwise, to oversee your care when memory loss advances and you are unable to coordinate your care needs.
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How to Understand the Role and Responsibility of Being a Guardian for an Elderly Parent
How can you know if filing for legal guardianship of a parent is the best solution? Are you up to the challenge?
Filing for guardianship doesn’t have to be intimidating. In many cases, becoming a guardian of a parent can protect mom or dad from unintentional harm, ensure safety, and provide quality of life.
Filing for guardianship of a parent without an attorney can save you thousands of dollars IF your family situation is right. An experienced elder law or probate litigator charges $250 to $300 an hour. An attorney retainer for guardianship can start at $5,000 for an uncontested guardianship case.
Contested hearings involving multiple attorneys can be costly, ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars. Even still, there are times when hiring an attorney to file for guardianship is the wisest action a family member can take.
Investing time to watch this online guardianship program may be all you need to decide whether you can file for guardianship as a family member or if hiring an attorney is the wiser option.
Legal Guardianship of the Elderly Webinar Program
This webinar program by Pamela D Wilson who served as a professional court-appointed guardian for more than ten years offers steps for obtaining legal guardianship of a parent. In many cases, family members can file for guardianship without an attorney.
However, Wilson also discusses family situations where hiring an elder law or probate litigator for a contested guardianship hearing may be a prudent step to filing for guardianship. As a court-appointed guardian, Wilson (who is not an attorney) retained and worked with elder law, probate, and estate planning attorneys on behalf of her clients and their families.
Through her experience navigating the day-to-day aspects of being a guardian, Wilson has the expertise to help family members understand aspects of this significant responsibility for loved ones. This program previously only available through Wilson’s membership site is now available for complimentary participation.
Note: This webinar is educational and is not a substitute for legal advice. Consult an attorney for questions about pursuing guardianship for a loved one with memory loss.
The links below on this page take you to each of the program webinars on Pamela’s YouTube Channel.
Answers for frequently asked questions about filing for guardianship:
- How do I know if my elderly parent needs a guardian?
- Can Adult Protective Services take over my parent’s life?
- Can my parent appoint me as an agent under a medical power of attorney to make health care decisions instead of becoming a guardian?
- I live alone. My doctor told me I have early Alzheimer’s and will need help making decisions in the future. What is the best way to appoint someone to care for me when I can’t care for myself?
- How do I apply for guardianship of a parent?
- How do guardianship hearings work?
Does My Parent Need a Guardian?
Parents and older adults who show signs of difficulty managing daily activities may be unaware of memory problems. Wilson’s podcast called the Signs of Dementia Checklist shares indications that a parent may be experiencing memory loss. Getting guardianship of a parent with dementia is an important family discussion.
If you are an older adult, forgetfulness may be making you vulnerable to financial exploitation or self-care neglect. Are bills going unpaid, have you lost weight, and are friends making comments about your memory?
When denials exist bout memory loss, it’s time to seek a medical evaluation to determine if filing for guardianship should be the next step to protecting a parent. Guardianship allows for decision-making about health care, medical treatments, living arrangements, and many other critical day-to-day decisions to ensure the safety and well-being of a parent.
Why Memory Loss Is Not Easily Diagnosed
Nearly 50% of older adults over age 85 are unaware that they experience memory gaps. Difficulty managing money, completing mathematical computations, and organizational skills are often the first signs of memory loss.
Aging adults with a family history of memory loss may be more aware and fearful of the possibility of an eventual diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia. A lack of regular medical care—that can identify early health concerns—contributes to lower rates of memory loss diagnosis.
Can Adult Protective Services Take Over My Parent’s Life?
Adult Protective Services (APS) is a county office in all states responsible for investigating the living situations of older adults who cannot meet their own needs and who are victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. In some situations, family members take advantage of or neglect elderly parents. Reports to adult protective services can be made by any person concerned about an aging adult’s welfare.
Mandatory reporting laws exist in many states. However, a hesitation in reporting still exists among physicians who may notice that their patients are experiencing progressive memory loss and may be neglecting their care. Family members, who may have heard horror stories about the involvement of government agencies may be hesitant to communicate with adult protective service workers.
In most cases, adult protective services can be helpful and support guardianship by family members. Their intention is not to take over a parent’s life but they will become involved due to family or self-neglect. There are instances where adult protective services will petition for guardianship to appoint a non-family guardian.
The recommendation is that all family members participate with adult protective services staff. Family members who are unfamiliar with services and resources can benefit from the suggestions from APS workers for local providers.
Adult protective services can also connect family members with the county probate office who may have a help desk. Filing for guardianship of a parent is possible when you know the steps to take.
Can My Parent Appoint Me as an Agent Under a Medical Power of Attorney to Make Decisions Instead of Becoming a Guardian?
Elderly parents who have the foresight to create estate plans that include a durable medical and financial power of attorney, a living will, and a will or a trust fare the best when a health diagnosis like dementia arises.
Creating these documents using an elder law, probate, or estate planning attorney offers the best opportunity to make a wise decision about who to appoint as an agent, personal representative, or trustee.
Experienced attorneys often include a clause a power of attorney documents about incapacity, the appointment of successor agents, and naming a guardian or conservator. When documents include these provisions, an adult child or agent can act as an agent under a durable medical power of attorney without the need of filing for guardianship.
When Is It Too Late to Create Medical Power of Attorney Documents?
The decision to appoint an agent under a durable medical power of attorney instead of a guardian is not an option when dementia or Alzheimer’s disease has progressed to where a parent lacks an understanding—called capacity—to understand the purpose and provisions in the document.
When an individual waits too long to execute estate planning documents, family members interested in a parent’s well-being must work through the court system to appoint a guardian or a conservator.
Filing for guardianship of a parent includes gaining an understanding of legal incapacity and the information to include in a guardianship petition. It is also important for the prospective guardian to understand the duties and responsibilities of being a legal guardian.
I Live Alone. What is the Best Way for Me To Appoint Someone to Care for Me When I Cannot Care for Myself?
The number of solo Baby Boomers or solo agers is increasing. Divorcees and never-marrieds may rely on adult children and friends for care. If you are an adult diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or another chronic disease that has the potential to affect your memory, making an advanced care plan is essential.
Creating an estate plan and a care plan while you remain able to manage your affairs offers the best opportunity to appoint an agent under a durable medical power of attorney to manage and oversee your medical care. If necessary, a provision in the document can give the agent you appoint priority for a guardianship appointment.
If you do not have a family member or friend willing to become your agent, professional fiduciaries exist who accept these types of appointments. In many cases where family disagreements exist, elderly parents and others prefer to designate a professional fiduciary to act in their best interest.
Take the Next Steps to Check Out This Webinar Series
This guardianship webinar series is composed of four parts and a summary. While you can watch them in any order, the information will be easiest to understand if you watch the sections sequentially.
Click on the text highlighted in PINK below to access the webinar and the corresponding slide deck.
Webinar One: Why Having Guardianship Versus Medical Durable Power of Attorney is Important (Time 48:17)
Part One of How to Get Guardianship of a Parent serves as a foundation for the program to help you understand why decision-making power is important whether you are an agent under a medical durable power of attorney or a court-appointed guardian.
In Part One of this Guardianship webinar series you will learn:
- Why decision-making power is important when working with family members, care providers, and the healthcare system
- The duty a guardian has to plan for care, provide oversight, and advocate for care
- Why rushed physicians may not give their full attention to the care of a parent unless a legally responsible person is involved
- The difference between clinical capacity and legal capacity and why this is important
- How much decision-making power you need depends on family situations, cooperation by an elderly parent, and the complexities of health and working with the healthcare system.
Webinar Two: What is Legal Incapacity? (Time 25:50 coming soon)
This webinar defines and discusses why legal incapacity is a requirement to obtain guardianship of a parent or an adult.
In Part Two of this Guardianship webinar series you will learn:
- Common definitions related to the agent under a medical durable power of attorney and guardianship
- An increased understanding of what legal guardianship means
- The importance of talking to elderly parents about guardianship
- The different types of guardianship
- Who must be advised about the intention to petition for legal guardianship
- Why a guardianship may be “contested”
- The legal definition of incapacity
- What is the medical substantiation of legal incapacity?
- Other demonstrations of health, safety, and decision-making concerns for a parent
Webinar Three: What Does Petitioning for Guardianship Mean? (Time: 21:50 coming soon)
This guardianship webinar reviews how to identify the process for your state, specific to the forms and the steps necessary to file for guardianship of a parent. The pros and cons of filing as a “pro se” party versus knowing when hiring an elder law attorney may be beneficial are also discussed.
In Part Three of this Guardianship webinar series you will learn:
- The definition of “pro se” party and what this means for filing a petition without an attorney
- Why a contested hearing may mean that hiring an attorney is necessary plus the potential costs of a contested guardianship hearing
- Where to find the guardianship process and forms for filing in the state and county where your parent lives
- The process of giving notice of the petition, scheduling a court hearing, and paying the related filing fees
- Confirmation of legal incapacity and substantiation for why a guardian is needed for a parent
- How guardian compensation works
- How a guardianship hearing works
- Guardianship education and understanding the forms you must file after being appointed
Webinar Four: Understanding the Legal Decision Making Powers and Responsibilities of Being a Guardian (Time: 29:43 coming soon)
This webinar reviews the higher level of responsibility of a court-appointed guardian and the reality that all actions of the guardian are subject to outside review and scrutiny.
In Part Four of this Guardianship webinar series you will learn:
- The importance of court-reporting and filing reports on time
- Why a commitment to ongoing education about managing the care of aging parents is necessary and beneficial
- The duty to promote social interactions and meaningful relationships with family members
- Responsibility for care oversight and documenting interactions with healthcare providers and others
- Visits to parents that may include supervision of care
- How to advocate for medical care
- How to recognize and avoid conflicts of interest
- Supporting well-being over the preservation of the estate
- How being appointed a guardian can damage family relationships including the relationship you have with your parent
Webinar 5 Summary: How to Get Guardianship of a Parent: Is Being a Guardian for You? (Time 3:20 coming soon)
After watching this Guardianship webinar series you may have more questions. In this brief closing webinar, Pamela D Wilson discusses the next steps of getting guardianship of a parent or what to do if you decide being a court-appointed guardian is not for you.
If you are still undecided or have more questions consult the probate office in the county where you live and discuss the information with your family. For more specific information about the legal process of obtaining guardianship in your state consult with a certified elder law, probate, or estate planning attorney near you.
Interested in More Education About Caring for Elderly Parents? Check Out Pamela’s Other Webinar Program – Support Caring for Elderly Parents
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