Our parents raised us to be independent, know right from wrong and work hard. Now, health problems could be costing one or both of your aging parents their ability to care for themselves. To keep them as healthy and safe as possible, It might be time to consider an adult guardianship.
A guardianship gives you legal powers and responsibility over the ward. As a guardian, you make decisions about the ward’s medical care, finances, living situation and everything else affecting both their day-to-day and long-term wellbeing. There is also a more limited form of guardianship called guardianship over the person, which limits your responsibilities to the ward’s health and safety. For the most part, you make these decisions independently, though Arkansas law requires a judge’s approval in certain situations, such as major property purchases using the ward’s money or assets.
Who needs a guardian?
For adults, guardianship is appropriate when they lack the mental capacity to take care of their own financial, medical and day-to-day matters. This can apply when you have a child with special needs who is turning 18. More commonly, an adult child seeks guardianship over a parent when dementia, brain injury, mental illness or another condition has rendered them unable to understand their situation or make reasonable decisions in their own best interest.
Procedures to follow
Whether your parent objects to the guardianship or not, you must follow certain procedures, including filing a petition and having a judge hold a hearing to decide whether to order it. The would-be ward has the right to argue against it at the hearing. But the hearing is required even if your loved one does not oppose guardianship. You can have an elder law attorney represent and advise you.
It is never easy having to face a parent’s mental decline. But elder law can help you keep them safe now that they need you.