How to Get Guardianship of a Parent?
How to get guardianship of a parent is a question that adult children ask 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 older person who lives alone with a diagnosis of memory loss. How can you know if obtaining legal guardianship of a parent is the best solution?
How to Get Guardianship of A Parent: An Online Course
This online course by Pamela D Wilson who served as a professional court-appointed guardian for more than ten years offers information about how to obtain legal guardianship of a parent or another family member. In many cases, family members can petition for guardianship without an attorney. Wilson also discusses family situations where hiring an elder law or probate litigator for a contested guardianship hearing may be in the best interest of a parent.
Learn more about the online course How to Get Guardianship of a Parent and other helpful information visit Pamela’s Membership and Store Page.
Pamela answers other frequently asked questions about how to obtain legal guardianship of a parent:
- How do I know if my parent needs a guardian?
- My parent was reported to Adult Protective Services by a neighbor. APS mentioned guardianship—what does this mean for my family?
- Can my parent appoint me as an agent under a medical power of attorney to make 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 to get guardianship of a parent?
How Do I Know if My Parent Needs a Guardian?
Parents and older adults who show signs of difficulty managing daily activities may be unaware of memory deficits. How do you know if a parent is experiencing memory loss? If you are an older adult, how do you know if forgetfulness is adversely affecting your life?
Changes in organizational skills and daily abilities are early indicators that memory loss or another health issue may exist. Individuals who lack awareness of dementia or Alzheimer’s may have this condition and lack insight into changes that may be obvious to family members or friends.
Memory loss can progress to a stage where parents express denial about being forgetful or managing daily activities. This lack of insight, also called anosognosia, can occur with other health conditions in addition to dementia. When parents respond with adamant denials to family conversations about health concerns, it may be time to seek a medical evaluation to determine the foundation of the concern and learn how to obtain legal guardianship 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. These issues can occur as early as 10 to 20 years before a diagnosis.
Aging adults with a family history of memory loss may be more aware of the possibility of an eventual diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Elderly parents who may have infrequent visitors or contact with others may have memory loss that progresses to a stage where living alone becomes unsafe. A lack of regular medical care—that can identify early health concerns—contributes to lower rates of memory loss diagnosis.
What Happens When My Parent Is Reported to Adult Protective Services
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. In other instances, APS becomes involved because of family neglect and supports state guardianship or guardianship by a professional. There are instances where adult protective services will petition for guardianship to appoint non-family members.
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. Learning how to obtain legal 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?
Individuals 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 health diagnoses like dementia arise. 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 for a guardianship appointment.
Is it Ever 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 eliminated 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.
Learning how to obtain legal 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. Divorcee and never marrieds are relying 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, advance care planning is essential.
Creating an estate 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.
How to Get Guardianship of a Parent – Pamela’s Online Course for Family Caregivers
For adults interested in how to get guardianship of a parent or the process to appoint a guardian, register and watch this FREE On-Demand Guardianship Webinar.
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 begin at $5,000 to accept an uncontested guardianship case. Contested hearings involving multiple attorneys can be costly, ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars.
How to Get Guardianship of a Parent, the online course offered by Pamela D Wilson, a caregiving expert, and certified guardian, educates family caregivers about the steps to get guardianship of a parent. Pamela D Wilson does not offer legal advice. She shares her experiences as a court-appointed guardian of the elderly and disabled.
What you’ll learn:
- Why having guardianship versus durable medical power of attorney can be important when working with a healthcare system that may not understand the role of a legal agent or guardian.
- Why legal incapacity is required for guardianship, what legal incapacity means, and the steps to take to confirm a parent is incapacitated and needs a guardian.
- The steps to take if you are contacted by Adult Protective Services about self-neglect or other safety concerns about an aging parent with memory loss.
- The difference between legal incapacity and medical incapacity. Why working with the healthcare system can be complicated when you have legal responsibility.
- How to petition for guardianship, including the forms to file, who you must inform, and the information needed for the petition.
- The responsibilities of a legal guardian to know if being a guardian is a role you want to accept.
After completing this online course, participants will understand whether filing without an attorney is possible. You will also understand the steps to confirm a parent needs a guardian, learn how to submit a guardianship petition to the court, and be prepared to advocate with a healthcare system that does not always place the care of the elderly at a high priority.
Make the care of an elderly parent or loved one a priority, by learning about how to get guardianship today. Learn more about the course by clicking on the below link.
Learn What Life is Like for a 24/7 Caregiver or Guardian
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