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My 96-year old father has not granted POA to anyone. He lives alone. His physical health is good, is ambulatory, but has cognitive impairment. At some point in the near future he will need assistance at home, but refuses to consider it and paying for it. I have been told that seeking legal guardianship is the only option I have to help care for him in the near future. Has anyone been through this? Is it difficult? As guardian, what are my liabilities? I just do not know what I am facing, nor do I want to upset my father by what I fear will be perceived by him as a stripping of his dignity.

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This is a battle you don’t want to enter unless you feel pretty confident about succeeding.

You need a lawyer to file the case.

You dad will be examed by a doc and given a competency test.

Dad will be served the legal papers

You, and possibly Dad, will appear at a hearing.

It could cost $3K or more.


I’m doing it now for both my parents. I was pretty sure going in they would score very low and not be required to attend a hearing. And that’s the way it has turned out for me.

The big issues driving this are getting elders into care and getting control of finances, selling property etc.
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If you go the legal route, he will most likely receive notification of the date and time of the court case. If he is able to get himself to court to contest you may lose the case. If you know that he cannot do this, then you should procede. However if you then hire help, he may still not let them in the door.
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Thank you all!
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I feared the same thing, but because of his unwillingness to accept help I ended up doing the same thing.

Depending on the amount of assets you would needed to take out an surety bond as insurance on the person's estate. You are not liable for any financial damage incurred by the ward, however, you are expected to care for anything that they may owe. For example, your elderly parent owes back taxes, you would need to pay them for him but your lawyer may be able to help you with that.
You liabilities are limited, but it is similar to having a child. If he hurts himself and it is proven that you were negligent you could be liable for that.
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Try to get a POA if the elderly person can understand it in the most basic fashion, but if that does not work:

1. Contact an Elder Law Attorney
2. Take your loved one to two doctors for memory Assessment exam
- They will have to agree that the elderly person is not able to manage themselves without help
3. Petition the court for temporary guardianship after the two doctors sign off.
4. accept the guardianship order (temp).

After all this is done, you would get a court hearing that you or your attorney will need to attend.
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Deciquesi, I found this article here on Aging Care regarding Guardianship:

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/how-to-get-guardianship-of-elderly-parents-140693.htm
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