Guardianship over elderly parent.

Started by

My mother has developed severe schizophrenia and maybe some dementia as she has gotten older. I've been caring for her the best I can. She also doesn't know she is sick and needs treatment. It has caused financial trouble, as well as being hard to get her help since she isn't a violent danger to herself or others. Not having guardianship I haven't been able to apply for any services for assistance with utilities and housing for us. I couldn't afford to keep up with the mortgage and ended up losing our home and equity in the home. We got evicted and right now my mom is in a psychiatric hospital. It is agreed by social workers my mom needs guardianship.

The hospital wants to use a public guardian since they said fincially I can't take care of my mother. From what I read public guardian is a last resort if no family is around. I don't know fully what this will mean for me. Since part of guardianship is signing legal documents, would I have to hope the public guardian agrees?

I was told my getting guardianship will take time and maybe down the line be sighed over to me. I can't afford a lawyer for it.

Should I be worried? The main reason I am so financially strapped is because taking care of my mom was a 24/7 job. I was hoping to move her into a senior apartment where she can have caretakers and I can still see her. And as the daughter alot of legal things surround this... things my mom would need to sign...everything from life insurance, things I need to get on my feet (my father passed away a few years ago, my mom and dad were never legally married and some issues still come up with that). HIPPA laws might also make me in the dark about what treatment my mom receives..

Obviously just worried and concerned, someone I don't know at all or know if I can trust making decisions for my mom, which also will impact me worries me.

Does this sound like an ok thing to have a public guardian? How hard will it ne to switch to me later? Would I need a lawyer then?


Depending on the state you live in there might be free legal services available to you. Google free legal services and your state. In my state the agencies determine if you are income eligible and if asses your case. If you qualify then they assign your case to one of the law practices that offer pro bono work. Family law is one of the categories they help with. You can also Google pro bono lawyers in your area.

Your Mom does need a guardian. I too thought that family was the first choice in this regardless of income. A court appointed guardian would not be spending their money on your Mom so it makes no sense that you need money to be her guardian if it's simply about income.
Sorry I meant to type "will assess you case" not "if asses your case" : Quite a typo that one :)
M - actually guardianship is not a "last resort", what often happens is that the judge (usually heard or presented in probate court) appoints an outside non-family guardian if there is emergency placement needed (hospital ail services submits request to court); or family in-fighting; or if family is unsuitable; or family has other limited term priority (like military / deployed or undergoing chemo). Outside guardian comes from a list of vetted individuals approved by the court; could be an atty or someone who has done a guardian certification program. Guardianship can be temporary or permanent but whichever involves a lot of legally required reporting and management of the person to the court on a set schedule.

If you are going to apply for guardianship, you have to clearly be able to show capability of a fiduciary yourself need to have a stable income & household. Court will often run a credit report on the guardian applicant. If there is anything amiss, then the judge in an abundance of caution will name an outside guardian. If what you wrote is accurate, then already while under your cohabitation, mom has had her home foreclosed & you both were evicted & mom placed on a psych hold. Not to sound harsh, but Judge probably not going to find you acceptable for his court to ever appoint you.

If later on you turn things around, you can petition the court to get guardianship.

In many ways having a guardian deal with all thing " mom" means that she will get all kinds of services done rightaways. Guardian with court order has a lot of weight to make things happen. You will not necessarily be shut out of moms life; they want family to be involved but you have to realize and accept that decision making is the guardians responsibility.
Typo " hospital ail" should be hospital social services

Bit of background, a BFF is guardian for her sister who is bipolar and has been in & out of psych hospitals 30 years. About 8 years ago, BFF got letter from court to review guardianship. State required all courts to run credit reports on guardianships awarded before hurricane Katrina as some courthouses had stuff MIA. BFF ex hubs had bankruptcy and all sorts of judgements and some of this linked to her credit report, so she had to get that cleaned up to get reappointed guardian. Both exhubs & new hubs went to court with her & sissy & their atty for the hearing; judge asked everybody individual questions too. Judges take guardianship appointments pretty seriously because if they go amiss, it's their decision that ultimately was responsible.
The house was my dad's and already in foreclosure when he passed. I think the only option would of been to sell the house. My parents weren't legally married (mariage records can be searched). so the house would of went to me but propate couldn't properly be done since mom wouldn't go to court.

There is more legal stuff like that that also effects me, both me and my mom (ie; if house was sold we would of both had money to relocate), so I wonder how guardianship will work with that.

I also wonder if public guardian has the family interest in mind, placing mom in a place that will be within reasonable distance to visit.

The guardians first interest is for the welfare of their ward --- that would need to be true whether it is outside guardian or family. If the best suited psych facility is another county, then that is what the guardian needs to do.

There are articles on this site regarding guardianships that you should read carefully. The costs to petition for guardianship vary but expect it to run between 5K - 15K. Judge does not have to award guardianship to you either, so before you go and pay for an attorney, think hard if the actions that have happened with your mom while you two were living together show that you would be a suitable guardian; & that you have a stable living situation.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support