Guardianship?

kittiemomSeptember 30, 2012

Does anyone have any experience with becoming a guardian for their parent(s)? I know it is a last resort & not a pleasant experience for anyone involved. I'm not sure that there will be any other options for me, though. We don't have a diagnosis yet, but it's pretty obvious that my dad has dementia. He is losing weight & basically can't remember anything. He has finally agreed, after months of refusing, to get the testing for a diagnosis. He lives alone but near my sister. He's in a rural area & has no neighbors who can check on him. He also has a mobility issue with his leg. We are concerned about him living alone in an isolated area. He refuses to consider assisted living or even having someone come to his house to help him. My sister & I don't want to put him or ourselves through the guardianship process, but we are running out of options to make sure he's safe.

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sushipup1

There are so many reasons why legal guardianship is a difficult process. You really should contact an elder-law attorney in your father's area.

I found a good article that may help.

Here is a link that might be useful: dementia and guardianship

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 12:46AM
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sandysage

I am the plenary guardian of my mother. And, in our situation, it has proven to be a horrible decision. First of all, I probably never needed that level of legal association - I did previously have POA - and that probably would have been enough for 99.9% of all situations encountered. Not only would my mother have never questioned my authority but I've found that most people in financial institutions and even health care seem to believe POA is of higher authority than legal guardian (not).
Additionally, it cost a bundle of money & time to obtain guardianship. In my state, Florida, I am legally required now to submit two additional reviews to the court - both of which MUST be filed by an attorney. This is (1) Personal Care Plan which outlines care expected for the next year such as place of residence, healthcare, social care, etc and (2) Annual Accounting Plan which outlines all the costs associated with the Ward covering all costs of living and financial status and this accounting is detailed - and often requires hiring of an accountant. It is a costly 2-part plan to complete and file. If audited, then there are more costs. I know that different states have different requirements for this and while some are more relaxed, some are much more difficult. Some states require you to have court approval for any funds withdrawn from the Ward's accounts. And in FL I was required to take a Guardianship Course.
So you should really talk with both a lawyer and elder advocate. If you don't need that level of authority, I'd skip it...
Good luck - what a decision!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:32PM
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sandysage

I thought about my message all evening. I didn't mean to focus so much on the monetary and legal effort issues. But, those have been substantial and, basically, bled my mother's savings & retirement accounts dry. I have had two layers and both turned out to be rather *unethical* IMO. The first actually left town and I was advised by another lawyer to report her dealings to the bar.

Anyway, what I wanted to add today is that Guardianship does not erase the difficulty dealing with the Ward. If your father disagrees with your plans/decisions, Guardianship will not alleviate it. Of course, if you needed to call in authorities and to force your father to comply with your decisions, Legal Guardianship would be helpful.

I'd use this forum and other senior groups to find how to deal with your father and utilize POA for financial/medical conditions.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 11:20AM
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kittiemom

Thanks for the excellent article & info. My sister & I have POA, but haven't exercised. It is revocable, & we are afraid that my dad will get angry at us trying to use it & revoke. Even if we are able to use POA for financial, we can't do anything about his driving. We also can't get anyone in to help him out or move him to an assisted living facility. He shouldn't be driving but won't listen to us about that either. We have considered disabling the vehicles (he has two), but don't think that would work. He'd just call my sister to take it to a mechanic. People from the community are beginning to approach me when I go home & tell me about their concern for him. It looks like there is no easy answer. We are planning to see an elder law attorney soon.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 7:53PM
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kittiemom

sandysage, I do appreciate you mentioning the monetary issues. One of the things we're concerned about is preserving my dad's savings for his future needs. We are fortunate that he has long term care insurance. We are glad to know that's there when we need it, but it doesn't pay for everything. We are also concerned at this point about someone scamming him. You see so many horror stories about that. Wow, I never thought I'd have to do this without my mom.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 7:57PM
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sandysage

One other word of caution = the attorneys I used were elder care attorneys. Unfortunately they turned out to be stereotypical in that they were the ones who highly encouraged me to take the step to Guardian. Told me all kinds of horror stories of how bad it would get if I wasn't the Guardian. Set themselves up for the initial investment (over $10K for processing Guardianship) and a court mandated annual filing and quarterly *assessments* (over $7K annually) until her account was depleted. The final attorney that I met with due to my concerns told me (off the record) what I could do... and then he refused to represent me because, at that point, he knew there wasn't enough money in her account to pay his fees. He was quite honest about it and cautioned me that another attorney might not refuse and might put me in a position to be personally responsible for the costs. Especially since I was the Guardian and was responsible for making sure the Ward has the best care possible - which can be turned into someone forcing me to pay out of my pocket - even forcing me into financial demise.

Not sure how to find another attorney like this but I would just suggest you interview several attorneys and understand the legal requirements in your state.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 10:49AM
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dreamgarden

"We don't have a diagnosis yet, but it's pretty obvious that my dad has dementia. He is losing weight & basically can't remember anything. He refuses to consider assisted living or even having someone come to his house to help him. My sister & I don't want to put him or ourselves through the guardianship process, but we are running out of options to make sure he's safe."

Wow. It seems as if your darned if you do and darned if you don't. Sounds like what other posters have mentioned here. That the parents of these children refuse to let them do anything until a crisis occurs.

Before you decide (or take any further actions), please read what other people who were in similar situations did. I would not want to get caught up in a guardianship that attaches to any of MY money or gets transferred to a 'court appointed' attorney that can drain your parents funds dry.

Links that might be useful:

How To Survive Caring For Aging Parents
www.elderrage.com/SampleChapter.asp

$ Predatory Guardians $
American hospitals have devised a scheme to guarantee they never get stuck with an unpaid bill.àItâÂÂs called guardianship.

theintelhub.com/2011/09/14/the-hospital-gestapo-you-may-never-see-home-again/

The Retirement Nightmare: How to Save Yourself from Your Heirs and Protectors : Involuntary Conservatorships and Guardianships

"Once judged incompetent and placed under a conservatorship, a citizen becomes a nonperson, with fewer rights than a convicted felon in a penitentiary. Your income goes to the conservator, who also controls your assets. You can't write a check, use a credit card, or make an ATM withdrawal. You live where the conservator says and eat what he or she provides. The car keys are taken away. You even lose your right to vote.

It is the first book in America to focus on the abuse rather than the use of today's conservatorship and guardianship codes, exposing a web of state laws that were originally created to protect "infants and lunatics" and are now being used to strip elderly men and women of financial and personal independence during their golden years of retirement."

www.retirementnightmare.com/feedback.htm

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 10:58AM
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franceymargaret

Depending on what state you live in there may be a link to guardianship at free or low charge through your state DSS office, go on line and google your state DSS. Elder law attorneys can be expensive. I know in my state there is help because I used it. It is under elderly and disabled support. There is lots of help.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 1:26AM
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