Watching your parent struggle with the physical and/or mental deterioration that accompanies the aging process can be extremely difficult. Nevertheless, making the decision to seek guardianship over your parent can be a heart-wrenching decision. It may feel like doing so will take away your parent’s freedom and independence. To help you decide how to proceed, an Indianapolis adult guardianship attorney at Frank & Kraft discusses why you should consider guardianship for your parent.
What Is an Adult Guardianship?
Guardianship is a legal relationship, established through a court process, whereby a responsible adult or organization is appointed (the “guardian”) to care for someone who needs help (the “ward”) caring for himself/herself and/or managing his/her finances. Indiana recognizes both a Guardianship of the Person and a Guardianship of the Estate. A Guardianship of the Person is established when an adult is unable to care for his/her personal needs, such as maintaining regular hygiene and taking prescribed medication. A Guardian of the Person will be responsible for protecting the adult and will have the authority to make personal decisions for the adult, such as where he/she will live. A Guardianship of the Estate is established when an adult cannot handle financial matters. The court might appoint one type of guardian or both types, depending on the needs of the ward.
When Is Adult Guardianship Warranted?
There is no universal test for determining when adult guardianship is needed. Instead, it is decision that must be made based on a unique set of circumstances. According to the American Bar Association (ABA), “A decision to seek guardianship should never be based on stereotypical notions of old age or handicaps. A person has the right to make foolish or risky decisions. These decisions by themselves do not mean that the person lacks capacity. A competent person chooses to run risks. An incompetent person runs risks not by choice, but by happenstance.” The ABA suggest that a senior may need a guardian:
- When they can no longer manage their affairs because of serious incapacity, and
- No other voluntary arrangements for decision making and management have been set up ahead of time, or if they have been set up, they are not working well, and
- Serious harm will come to the individual if no legally authorized decision maker is appointed.
Why Should I Consider Guardianship?
While it can be difficult to make the decision to pursue guardianship over a parent, failing to do so could leave your parent vulnerable to elder abuse or victimization by those who prey on the elderly. In addition, guardianship can benefit your parent and the entire family in numerous ways, such as:
- Other members of the family know that someone is dedicated and devoted to caring for their family member.
- You have clearly established legal authority to interact with third parties, such as a long-term care facility, physicians, government agencies, and even law enforcement officers if necessary.
- Someone has the authority to receive income and benefits and pay bills
- A process is in place for major decision making including long term care and residence.
- The legal ability to consent to medical treatment is in place.
- Assets are protected and managed properly.
Contact an Indianapolis Adult Guardianship Attorney
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns about pursuing guardianship for an aging parent, contact an experienced Indianapolis adult guardianship attorney at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.