It’s no secret that as we age, more and more of us are going to require someone else to make decisions for us at some stage of our lives. Our needs will change and we will become more dependent on others for our health and well-being. In fact, many of us are facing this issue now, as our elderly parents and grandparents grow older. Mom or Dad or Grandma may be dealing with an illness, such as Alzheimer’s disease, or injury, such as a broken hip, that may require the care or supervision from a trustworthy family member.
However, their need for care can often come as a surprise. Perhaps a bad case of pneumonia has them bed-ridden for a while, or they have slipped and fallen and are no longer as mobile as they once were. When this happens, the remaining family members are faced with making some important decisions about the care of their Loved One.
In some families, the adult children may adopt a care-by-committee approach, where several children take turns caring for their physically dependent parent. With different care styles and financial means, adult siblings may have different philosophies on how to take care of their Mom or Dad. Additionally, it may be challenging for the family and draining on the parent for them to be shipped around and rotated among the different homes.
It’s all too common for this situation to end in a family argument, where one of the adult children believes that he or she is shouldering more than his or her fair share of the care for Mom or Dad.
One solution is to use a legal guardianship for the dependent parent. This method clearly spells out the responsibilities of care and places them firmly with the most qualified son or daughter. Because of it has court approval, there is usually fewer arguments over deciding care and choosing medical procedures should the elderly parent need them. Additionally, it avoids the possibility for conflict that a care-by-committee approach is prone to.
The benefits of a guardianship can be great for many elderly people. Rather than being shuffled around several children’s homes, Mom or Dad can get settled in comfortably with one family and know that they will be consistently cared for. And in the event of an emergency, Mom or Dad has the piece of mind knowing that someone is ready to make sound decisions on their behalf.
The contents of this article are for information only and are not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in estate planning and probate law.