Becoming Legal Guardian for an Incapacitated Loved One
It can be extremely difficult for us to watch our parents growing older. With the aging process often comes the loss of ability to think clearly, which worsens as individuals live longer and longer. Additionally, the rate of Alzheimer’s and dementia only continues to increase.
This can be emotionally taxing and difficult to deal with; but the reality of having to make decisions for your loved one who cannot make decisions for themselves may become necessary.
Appointing a Legal Guardian
When a parent or loved one is unable to make rational decisions for themselves, it may be best to have a court appoint them a legal guardian. This often comes to pass when an elderly person can no longer safely live independently, yet refuses to move. If he or she no longer has the capacity to sign a power of attorney or an advanced directive (living will), they require a guardian.
Though they still maintain some of their legal rights as an adult, in certain instances this is not the case. Those who are appointed as legal guardian of another have a fiduciary duty to look after them and are legally responsible for their well being.
In order to be appointed someone’s legal guardian, an individual must petition the court and show evidence proving that the elderly individual is incompetent. In order to avoid any unnecessary outcomes, including abuse, the court gives the elderly individual due process.
This proof of incompetency includes obtaining expert medical opinions. The court may also require a psychologist to examine them in order to determine what they are no longer capable of. The court has the responsibility of determining if the elderly individual needs a guardian, before determining if you are the best person to serve as such.
Family feuds pertaining to the appointment of guardianship can not only prolong the process, opening your loved one up to a dangerous situation by causing a delay, but can also become quite expensive.
It is also important to note that an elderly parent has the right to object to the process and seek out his or her own representation.
Should you be appointed your parent’s guardian, you must remember that your parent is your ward, and that you have an obligation to decide on where they live and how their money is treated.
You will also have to set up financial accounts for them. You will take the conservatorship court documents to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in order to apply to serve as their representative payee.
Additionally, you must do the same for any other income that they receive and must notify their broker and/or mutual fund manager if they own financial assets.
Finally, it is important to maintain all receipts for anything purchased with their funds. You will have an obligation to report to the SSA as to how you have spent any/all of their benefit checks.
Brooklyn Elder Law Attorneys at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP Can Provide Guardianship Guidance
If you or a loved one is dealing with an elderly individual who is now incompetent to make his or her own decisions, it is time to ensure that they are in fact protected from harm. Whether working with clients from Brooklyn, New York, or Lakewood, a Brooklyn elder law attorney at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP will help you to help your loved one. For more information, call 212-495-8133 or contact us online today. We serve clients across Manhattan, Long Island, and Westchester, New York.