Retirement Planning, Elder Law, and Senior Finance

8/26/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

If you are an adult child to an aging parent, you might start experiencing a role reversal in the not-too-distant future. Instead of you relying on your parents for help, they will start looking to you for support. And as they get older and their mental health declines, you may start to wonder if your parent needs a guardianship.

Legal guardians help older adults make certain decisions that they are now incapable of making on their own. Determining if your parent needs a guardianship is evident in some cases and more challenging in others.

Guardianship is frequently put into place to protect older adults from unintentionally harming themselves. To keep that from happening to your parent, take a look at these six signs that could indicate the time for guardianship is now.

1. Your parent needs medical intervention

While creating a medical power of attorney is typically the first step in helping your parent make medical decisions, they cannot always consent to one. When medical incompetence prevents them from getting the medical treatments they need, you need to set up guardianship.

2. Your parent struggles to make decisions

It can be hazardous for a parent who has lost the ability to make decisions about their safety, health, or property. To secure guardianship, you might have to prove incapacitation, their inability to make decisions. Guardianship of a parent with dementia, for example, is common since conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease could be compromising your parent’s capacity for making decisions.

3. Your parent must sell their house to pay expenses

At some point, your parent may need to move into a nursing home or in with you because they can no longer safely live alone. If they refuse to sell their home to pay nursing home or moving expenses, you might need guardianship to allow you to sell the property.

4. Your parent disagrees with you about moving into a nursing home

It’s not unusual for adult children and older parents to have contentious discussions regarding moving into an assisted care facility. It can be heartbreaking for a parent to give up their independence and move into an unfamiliar environment. But it’s just as gut-wrenching for a child to see a parent who cannot care for themselves or is prone to slips and falls being on their own.

5. Your parent refuses to sign a power of attorney document

A durable power of attorney allows you to access your parent’s bank account and make financial decisions on their behalf. While it is less intrusive and time-consuming than creating guardianship, a power of attorney does no good if your parent will not consent to it. If your parent continues to be uncooperative, even though they need help desperately, you may need to set up a court-appointed guardianship of a parent, and request that the court appoints you as the guardian. As your parent’s guardian, you can ensure all of your parent’s bills are paid and that their finances are managed effectively.

6. You find evidence of undue influence

If your aging parent requires help with everyday tasks, they might hire a caregiver or some other type of helper. Regrettably, some dishonest individuals could attempt to influence your parent improperly. For example, a health care assistant might persuade your parent to rewrite their will, naming the health care worker as the new beneficiary. 

A guardianship may not be necessary…

Setting up guardianship is a significant step that is not usually necessary until you have exhausted all the other legal options to help care for your aging parents. If your parent agrees to sign a durable power of attorney, you will have the legal tools to ensure their personal care is handled satisfactorily. 

Unfortunately, aging parents can become less cooperative, and may refuse to sign any documents; you may suspect that your parent needs a guardianship as this might be the only valid option.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff