Seeking Guardianship of your Aging Parents
It’s never easy to watch a parent age, and if you’re considering seeking guardianship for them, there are a few things you need to know. We all know that as we get older, our health can start to deteriorate. The symptoms may be slow and subtle at first, but it can become harder and harder to maintain the same level of independence as the years go by. The role of a guardian can require a great deal of patience, empathy, and integrity. You would also likely benefit from having good organizational and communication skills.
What is Guardianship?
A guardian is someone another person has appointed to take care of their affairs, make medical decisions, and manage assets. Selecting an agent requires proof that you have the authority to act on behalf of your aging parent. You must obtain written and notarized documentation from your parent naming you as their agent. You may also consult with an attorney about what documents are needed for guardianship filings in your state.
Identifying when there is a real need for guardianship.
Before your parents’ health starts to become noticeably worse, you can consider talking to them about their wishes so you can determine if you will be able to sufficiently take care of their needs when the moment arrives where you need to find help. Prematurely appointing a guardian for your parents may cause emotional problems or even put further strain on your existing relationship. By knowing the exact moment your parents have reached the point where they are likely to benefit by receiving guidance or assistance, you’ll be able to make a confident decision on their behalf.
When considering whether or not to become your parents’ guardian, you need to look at what each option entails. If your parents are in an assisted living facility, for example, other family members can take on these duties, and you should explore these options first. Becoming guardians is an emotional decision with severe consequences, so make sure you feel comfortable with it before taking any action.
One common circumstance where you might consider petitioning for guardianship of your parents will be if they begin to struggle with making competent financial decisions or refuse assistance through a care facility. If you spot any situation where you notice your parents declining health is declining, you can always contact our office to get guidance during these difficult moments.
When does it make sense to file for guardianship?
You may need to file a petition for guardianship in court when someone cannot manage their finances or health care and:
• They do not have a power of attorney, payee, agent, or another person with the legal authority to make all the decisions the person cannot make on their own.
Always try to Respond to the Situation With Empathy.
Accepting that you will need to take over key care responsibilities will probably be hard for your elderly parents. Empathy has always been one of the essential qualities of any effective caretaker. Your ability to empathize with your parents and provide resounding support and encouragement can help them adjust to their new normal. With legal guardianship in place, you can help your parents continue to enjoy their life.
When considering guardianship for your parents, it is vital to be aware that there are different types: guardianship and power of attorney. A guardian is only authorized to make decisions about medical care, living arrangements, legal/financial affairs, etc., while a power of attorney may be able to do all of these things.
Washington State provides a beneficial Guardianship Portal you can use to find relevant resources as you determine the best path forward for your family.