Signs That Your Parent May Need a Guardianship

As your parents get older, you may realize that they are more forgetful.  This can manifest itself in subtle ways at first, such as forgetting to close the garage door, repeating stories, or not knowing what day of the week it is.  These memory lapses may intensify over the years, and what begins as “senior moments” can quickly turn into dementia, a condition serious enough to cause real harm if the individual is not properly cared for. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s and dementia are common with 1 in 10 people, over the age of 65, diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.  You can potentially help your parents by implementing guardianship to take care of their most basic needs.  Here is what you need to know about parent guardianship.

Having a Conversation About Additional Help or Care With Your Parent

It can be very difficult to have conversations about memory loss and caretaking issues with your elderly parents.  It may be embarrassing for your parents since often, up until now, they have managed their affairs or even viewed themselves as caretakers.  They raised and cared for you their entire lives, and now the roles have suddenly been reversed somehow. As their situation intensifies, they may forget to pay bills or their health begins to deteriorate due to lack of self care, and you may find that it is time for you to step in.  An elder law attorney can can assist you with the guardianship process.

When a Power of Attorney is Not Enough

A power of attorney is an important legal document that provides the ability for a designated person to act on behalf of someone.  There are several types of power of attorney, including a healthcare power of attorney, a durable power of attorney, and in some states a power of attorney specifically to buy/sell real estate.   This can be useful in many situations.  However, your parents may become incapacitated or need more assistance that what is provided under a power of attorney.  In addition, they may refuse to authorize a power of attorney or may become incapacitated before a power of attorney is notarized.  This may only leave you with one option, namely, to pursue guardianship.

What is Guardianship?

Guardianship can be established for adults, children, or disabled people in Maryland  to help ensure their well-being.  In Maryland, the legal process of establishing guardianship can be complex and typically involves several steps to safeguard the rights and interests of those in need.   Petitioning the court for Guardianship may be an important step when an individual is deemed unfit to make financial or medical decisions for themselves.  A legal guardian is appointed to make these decisions for them (the ward). Petitioning the court for guardianship may be your best option for ensuring that your parents get the care they need and ensure their finances are properly handled.  The following are four signs that your parents may benefit from a guardianship, according to Forbes.

  1. Refusal to Go To a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility  – If your mom or dad is unable to care for themselves or each other, they may need to consider going to an assisted living facility or nursing home. In this case, the only way to ensure that they get the help needed is to petition the court for guardianship.
  2. Medical Decisions – Even if you have health care power of attorney, also called a health care proxy, you may still need guardianship to make certain medical or financial decisions for your parent.  Your guardianship attorney can review the best options for your situation.
  3. If Investments or Real Property Must Be Sold – In order to pay for your parents living expenses, nursing home care, or medical treatments, it may become necessary to sell or liquidate real property or investments.  In order to do this, there would need to be certain legal documents already in place.  If your parents are incapacitated or legally unable to make decisions, perform daily activities, or considered legally sound of mind, a guardianship may be an appropriate course of action.
  4. Compromised Decision-Making – The court can offer limited guardianship in some cases, but not in all circumstances. As such, the court may allow guardianship authority in some areas, but not all.

Call a Maryland Guardianship Attorney Today

Petitioning the court for guardianship can be a complicated, strenuous legal process. At Frame & Frame, we understand the sensitivity of these situations and can provide compassionate, sound guidance to assist you through this process. Contact the experienced Maryland lawyers at Frame & Frame today or schedule a private consultation. We have been providing legal guidance to members of our community for over 70 years.