As your parents age, you may wonder about their future and your responsibility to care for them. If your parent’s physical and mental health deteriorates, you may need to make some financial and legal decisions on their behalf.
At Applegate & Dillman Elder Law, we acknowledge that you want the best for your parents, but this can be a challenging responsibility to consider. We will help you evaluate your options to ensure your parents benefit from appropriate guardianship. Our holistic services and experience have enabled us to help hundreds of like-minded adult children help their parents secure guardianship.
What is an Adult Guardianship?
A guardianship or conservatorship is a legal responsibility issued by a judge to a responsible adult to make decisions involving another person’s health care, daily life, or finances. The guardianship is established when the adult cannot perform tasks like maintaining hygiene and taking medication.
The guardian may not be held liable for poor judgments made on behalf of the incapacitated adult. However, if it is proven that they stole, committed fraud, or recklessly handled the person’s assets, they may be held responsible.
The guardianship lasts for as long as the person cannot make decisions. A financial guardianship may end as soon as the conservator has no assets to manage.
When Should You Seek Adult Guardianship?
Seeking adult guardianship is a personal decision based on special circumstances. Instances in which guardianship may be necessary include the following:
- You or your loved one may not be able to handle critical affairs due to incapacitation.
- Severe harm is likely to affect the individual if they do not have someone to make decisions on their behalf.
- There are no agreements to manage the decision-making ahead of time. Guardianship may also be ideal when the existing voluntary agreement is not functioning as it should.
The decision to seek guardianship should not be based on stereotypical handicaps and old age assumptions.
Can You Choose Who will be Your Guardian?
You have the liberty to choose a guardian, or the court can appoint them. This means that your guardian could be someone you never wanted, probably an estranged child or relative. At Applegate & Dillman Elder Law, we will help you ensure you select the suitable guardian to take over your responsibilities in incapacitation.
What are the Benefits of Adult Guardianship?
- If the court appoints your guardian, they have a fiduciary duty to act in your best interests. The court will oversee how the assets are managed and how the decisions are made.
- Assets are appropriately managed.
- You will now have someone to consent to any medical treatment.
- When necessary, you or your loved ones will have someone to engage third parties like physicians, law enforcement agencies, and long-term care facilities.
Schedule an Appointment Today
At Applegate & Dillman Elder Law, we will help you choose the right guardian to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. If you are an adult child, we will offer the legal support you need to secure guardianship for your parents when the need arises. Contact us now to learn more about how you can benefit from our life care planning services.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Legal Guardian?
Assuming the role of a guardian is an enormous responsibility. Guardians perform multiple duties to boost the welfare of the protected adult. An Indiana court may assign various responsibilities to a guardian for an incapacitated older person. The numerous roles the court gives to the guardian depend on the situation of the disabled individual. Here are some primary responsibilities of an adult guardian:
- Managing the elderly individual's healthcare
- Managing the disabled adult's properties and funds
- Furnishing the courts with consistent reports on the progress of the protected person
- Helping the disabled adult to start their recovery journey and work towards regaining their independence
- Caring for things like furniture and clothing of the incapacitated individual
There are also things guardians are not able to do. For example, the guardian cannot sell the incapacitated person's real estate, stop their guardianship, and use the protected individual's money. They can only perform specific roles when the court allows them.
What Level of Authority is Given to a Guardian?
The court confers a specific level of authority to a guardian based on the requirements of the protected adult. The court aims to maintain the independence of the protected individual. While promoting the older person's autonomy, the court ensures that the individual is given sufficient care. Here are some authorities a guardian may exercise over the protected individual:
- Ability to enter into agreements
- Acceptance of health care for the incapacitated person
- Determine where the protected person should stay
- Evaluate if it's appropriate for the disabled person to marry or file for divorce
The amount of power the guardian exercises over the protected individual can be minimal, depending on the court's evaluation. The role of the guardian is to promote independence, self-enhancement, and self-sufficiency. When applying for guardianship, the protected person should propose the level of authority they want the guardian to exercise over them. Based on the petition and the evidence submitted, the court determines an appropriate power level the guardian should hold.
What Rights Does the Cared-For Adult Have Under Guardianship?
Despite their incapacity, protected individuals have specific rights that they retain, including:
- The right to bond with family
- Voting rights
- Right to request the court terminate a guardianship
- Right to consult an attorney
- Protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation, race, or gender