When to Obtain Guardianship
While it is not easy to think about, there may come a time when a parent loses the ability to make sound decisions about their daily health and well-being. When elderly individuals are unable to care for themselves, their children and other loved ones may need to step in and assume responsibility for making crucial decisions about medical care, finances, and the living situation.
If the parent has not already appointed a power of attorney, their loved one can petition for guardianship over the individual. While a guardianship essentially removes many of the person’s rights, it is an essential form of legal, physical, and financial protection for a person who may not be able to make safe choices for themselves due to a diminished mental capacity.
What is a Legal Guardian?
A legal guardian is a person who has been appointed by the court to make decisions about a loved one’s health and/or property. In certain states, the terms “guardian” and “conservator” are considered one in the same; in others, a “guardian” manages the person’s health, while a “conservator” manages the person’s property. A spouse, child, friend, or other loved one can be named a legal guardian. In some cases, a local or state agency may also petition for guardianship. Before a guardianship can be established, the ward must be declared legally incompetent.
The court-appointed guardian makes decisions about the ward’s:
- Bills and expenses
- End-of-life decisions
- Medical care
- Place of residence
- Real estate and other personal property
To ensure the guardian is acting in the ward’s best interests, they are required to check in with the court at least once a year.
The Guardianship Process
The process for establishing a guardianship varies slightly from state to state, but generally includes the following steps:
First, the loved one files a petition asking the court to appoint a guardian. The petition includes information about the ward’s physical and mental health and explains why other alternatives are not feasible. The petitioner must also notify the elderly individual and their loved ones about their intentions.
A court investigator then reviews the elderly person’s situation to determine if a guardianship is necessary. Finally, a court hearing is held, where the judge reviews the petition, listens to statements from family members and investigators, and decides whether to appoint a legal guardian. Guardians are expected to make decisions based on the best interests of the ward. If certain family members disagree that a guardianship is necessary or cannot agree on who is the best choice to be a guardian, the process may require several hearings.
Brooklyn Guardianship Attorneys at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP Protect the Rights of Elders
Guardianship is often considered a last option for seniors with dementia and other conditions that impact their capability to make sound, rational decisions for their own safety and well-being. The Brooklyn guardianship attorneys at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP discuss your estate planning matter and answer your questions so you can feel confident you are making the best decisions for your family. Call 212-495-8133 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. With offices in Brooklyn, New York, and Lakewood, New Jersey, we serve clients in and around Manhattan, Long Island, and Westchester, New York.