Any advice about guardianship?

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I don't want to go to court for it unless I know the criteria for it being granted. I usually hear that it is merited when the dementia patient is a danger to themselves or others. Mom seems normal to many people who don't know her, yet she has poor judgement with finances, can't read her bank statements, and has invited a homeless guy in to live/help around the house. The "helper" forged a check for hundreds of dollars and stole property. Finally got her to try assisted living and she won't stay even though she can't cook or clean well anymore. Personality changes have caused her to push her kids away (periodically revoking Power of attorney) and make false accusations of the very people helping her most. Would guardianship help in this case? I know there is financial and physical guardianship. I can't really see her in a locked facility yet, but she is so uncooperative with her care. Anyone have suggestions? I just don't know what to do with her.

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Guardian through protective services, be careful
they (court or otherwise) may not pick a family member to be the guardian,
they may have the court (the judge) appoint one...
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Dear igloo572 and SunFlo - Wow, best detail so far on this subject here. I thank you for sharing what you have learned. I'm not so eager to pursue guardianship now. Mom's first lawyer was great and wrote me into the DPOA, on mom's request, to be her guardian if she ever needed one. However, since she has lost so much of her memory, reasoning, and personality, she revoked that POA and then after a few months she had a new one written up with a less skilled lawyer who left that out. Might be able to show the first one (when her reasoning was still good) but still sounds uncertain as to who would be granted guardian and whether or not that is much help. Excellent suggestion to check past cases, lawyers, etc. Thanks again. I am so glad I found this site where people can share their experiences, struggles, and lessons learned. It has been such a help to know how others are getting through these things too.
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deedee - please read & re-read SunFlo's post, it is spot-on.

Here's my take on guardianships, although I have not been one I have been executrix twice and spent more hours in probate court where also guardianships & conservatorships are heard and got to hear all sorts of drama on G/C:
- it is expensive, at least 7K and maybe to 20K with NO assurance that you will be named guardian. You have to front the funds for this too even if the elder has oodles of $$.
- not all attorney's are good at G/C. If you are serious about doing this you want someone who does this all the time as they know the judges and how they run their court. Probate court is open records (I think is is true in all states) and most county/parish courthouses have on-line document availability. So you can look at the guardianships from the recent past and can tell who (the law firm) filed it. This is important as the same names are going to show up over & over again, those are the attorneys to speak to consider handling your G/C.
- the judge is the smartest & best looking person in the room, even if he looks like Jabba the Hut. They have a good bit of discretion as so much of what is presented is subjective so paying respect to the judge & having an attorney who knows the court is critical.
- if you have any issues either personal or financial you are kinda toast on being named the G/C. The court routinely does a credit & background check for those applying to be a G/C. So if you declared bankruptcy or had a short-sell or don't have a job, you are toast. If there are any priors in your household or even juvee issues, you are toast on being named.
- most of the time the judge is going to want the G/C to live in the community, so if you live out of state or what they consider "a drive", you may not be named.
- the family needs to present a united front & be all kum-ba-ya on who to be named as the G/C. If there is any friction, the judge will likely name a court appointed temporary guardian.
- the judge has a list of vetted and approved G/C which they can name. Although I'm sure there are nightmare stories of outside G/C's fleecing their wards, most G/C have gone through training to do this within their state's rules.
- if you are named G/C you will have to do regular reporting to the court as to expenses and actions. If you don't, you will get a serious dressing down by the Jabba the Judge too.
- there are different levels of G/C, sometimes you can get it just for financials.

When we were doing my mom's legal a dz + years ago, her estate attorney had mom do a "Guardianship In Case of Incapacity" in which she named me. He told me that he did these routinely because it provides something to deflect the day that mom would in a fit of pique revoke my POA or do something else loco, basically a trump card for me to use if need be. Never needed to use it but nice to have.
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Thanks for your input, Marion21. The only problem is that in certain circumstances the DPOA and Health Care Proxy don't give the protection/authority needed. For example, when the person, my mom, isn't able to reason or use good judgement for their own protection and well being. As long as they are under a DPOA, they can override any of the healthcare or financial decisions you make that they don't agree with. In some cases that may put the person in real danger.
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Health Care Proxy and DPOA is much better than guardianship. Even if all family members are in agreement that does not always mean the judge will appoint you, I have seen to many cases that did not happen and an outsider was appointed a professional guardian and they make all the decisions for that person who will now be known as a ward ( ward of the state) I have seen in many many cases the guardian has isolated the ward from their family members for no reason. You can go to NASGA -- National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse ( their web site---blog) there are many horror stories on there. I would never ever recommend guardianship!
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So many good responses here. I looked into this a yr ago with my mom who was diagnosed with dementia and I felt she needed more help to live. I wanted to get her into a wonderful memory care facility and the DPOA she had required 2 des to declare incompetence but des were reluctant to write anything. I consulted with 2 attorneys and earlier post was correct...it can $10-12K in fees that you must pay and you will be additionally responsible for independent doctors, neurologist, psychiatric evaluations and social worker check. They will make independent evaluations, interview family, friends, neighbors, etc and even after all that YOU are not certain to gain guardianship even if you are willing. It is up to the court. They can appoint you or an independent guardian appointed by the court if they feel that is in your loved ones best interest. I dropped it because the attorney also informed me that it was possible that a judge could allow mom to continue living on her own with help and social worker check ins and then re-evaluate in 90 days or whatever. I felt that the whole ordeal would traumatize my mom and make her resent me as I knew she would.

My advice is to know your options and consider guardianship as last resort....make sure you can afford all the costs...because you have to pay, not the loved one. Yes, if you get financial guardianship, you can reimburse your costs...but if it's $20k or so when all is said and done, that may be a lg chunk of the estate.
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Excuse me. 2nd paragraph should read "Parents would HAVE another set of eyes....."
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Length of time getting guardianship? In Ohio it takes months or even a year. If defendant is able to talk their way through, providing birth date, ssn, address and health issues, courts may not award us guardianship because FIL can do that.. Call your Medicare Ombudsman. When my husband called, he was told that Medicare never recommends guardianship for enrolled party. So if the courts consider their opinion, that certainly isn't encouraging.

BTW when FIL refused to stay at rehab, the Center said that if he went home without 24-hour care, they would have to report him to Family Services. Parents would be another set of eyes during their short visits. Cannot imagine what will be said about more strangers coming through their door.

We cannot even get doctors to state that he is Hospice eligible even after being diagnosed with the worst rheumatoid arthritis they have ever seen along with Congestive Heart Failure and a mass (non malignant) in his lungs.. When we told FIL how that his pain patches cost $1,000 he stopped using them. That was not our intent. After the phone call today, this may be his demise. He will no longer go to the hospital.
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Dear GayleV- I have never heard this information before that you could not go for guardianship with DPOA and a living will in place. If guardianship is granted, it overrides and cancels the DPOA, but I do not believe that it, or a living will, are road blocks to getting it. I really feel for you about the "girlfriend" issue. I've actually thought that might become a possible problem with my dad in the future, but his wife is still living and they are married (barely! with all the false accusations that fly around and her dementia, which he has as well, just not as bad). You do have to give an exact account to the court, annually, for every penny spent on the,"ward", or person you are guardian for. Washington has a 10 hour mandatory course that has to be done annually, as I understand it, to be the guardian. That is, of course, not really a help in GETTING guardianship, but is required IF it is granted. All accounts I hear are that getting it granted requires indisputable evidence that the ward is in fact unable to make financial or healthcare decisions for themselves.
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Very interesting thread here; and very timely for me. I fear guardianship is the next thing for us, in dealing with my Dad (92). I really don't think I want it, but also feel the situation may require it. I (and my brothers) are on the durable power of attorney. (As in most of these situations, they do little or nothing for Dad. It's almost all on me.) Dad has a living will too. And he does have diagnosis of dementia (He's been on the Aricept for five years already.) He has made a few stupid financial moves. His decision making if so bad, he is at times a danger to himself, and others. I went through the ridiculously involved process of getting his license taken away, but he still drives everyday without one. (Obvious evidence of poor decision making, but is able to get strangers to help him call AAA when we disabled the car.). He is beyond stubborn, and refuses assisted living. I fear he will do something even more stupid with his money, as he has just recently gotten a "girlfriend".

All that being said, would some of you who seem to know about this, please tell us what are the responsibilities, and the downfalls of obtaining guardianship. And do I understand the previous post correctly, that we can no longer get it, because in the past we helped him set up DPOA and the LIving WIl? (I'd not heard that this could be a bar to guardianship, before.)
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