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How to Get Guardianship of an Elderly Parent

There are many reasons you may need to take guardianship of an elderly parent. If your elderly parent has a cognitive disorder or serious health issues they cannot manage on their own, guardianship may be the best option.

Guardianship over an elderly parent is a fairly extreme measure. It requires a court hearing and legal documentation. It is different from a power of attorney, in which an elderly person may give their child legal permission to act on their behalf. An example of power of attorney would be signing paperwork on behalf of the grantor. Guardianship, on the other half, permits you to make all legal and health decisions for the elderly person.

How to Obtain Guardianship of an Elderly Parent

The process for how to get legal guardianship of an elderly parent varies a bit between states, but the general process is as follows:

  1. You will need to obtain a doctor’s letter or physician’s certificate stating the elderly person is not physically and/or mentally capable of taking care of themselves. If the elderly person is resistant to seeing a doctor, you can proceed to the next step, and the court will likely order an official evaluation.

  2. File an application for guardianship with the probate court. The application does not guarantee guardianship - the courts will still need to complete background and financial checks, and determine whether you have any conflicts of interest.

  3. Notify the ward (your elderly parent) and any other relevant relatives of the proceedings.

  4. Seek other alternatives to guardianship. As mentioned earlier, Power of Attorney may be a better, less invasive option for you and your loved one. The courts will want to know you have exhausted all other options before granting guardianship.

  5. An attorney will be appointed by the court for the proposed ward. This attorney’s job is to work for what the ward wants. If this attorney or the court believes more investigation into whether or not guardianship is the correct choice is needed, a Guardian Ad Litem may be appointed. Their job is to determine what is in the best interest of the elderly ward, and since they are court-appointed, they are not biased towards the parent or the person seeking guardianship.

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The guardianship form for an elderly parent is different in every state, so your best option is to look online for the specifics in your state. Lawyers’ offices that specialize in this type of work may have the paperwork available on their website. Be sure to note the difference in forms for guardianship of an elderly parent as opposed to a minor. A lawyer can also help you obtain the necessary paperwork and make sure you follow the appropriate procedures for your area, so consulting with a lawyer can be very helpful in this matter.

Obtaining guardianship of an elderly parent is a lengthy and complex process - as it should be, since you are essentially taking over many of their rights. There are times when it is necessary for the elderly person’s health and well-being, but the decision to seek guardianship should never be taken lightly.

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