Should I Seek Guardianship for My Elderly Parent?

In a perfect world, our family interactions would all be positive and helpful. We would handle transitional times smoothly, cooperatively, and without any disagreement. As our parents grew older, it would be a seamless process to meet their current needs and their needs in the future.

The reality, however, is that being an adult child to older adults can be tumultuous. It’s not easy to identify when to step up and help, and when to step back so as to not step on your parents’ toes. And, there may be instances when your time and effort to help are met with opposition – even when you realize that help is required for their protection and safety.

A good first step is to make sure the senior has designated both a power of attorney and medical power of attorney. The person or persons entrusted with these roles will have the authority to make health and financial-related decisions on behalf of the senior if he or she were to become incapable of doing so.

Nevertheless, even if you are the designated power of attorney/medical power of attorney, you may want to consider going one step further and petitioning for guardianship for an elderly parent. This is worth exploring if:

  • The senior’s home or other property needs to be sold
  • Medical intervention is necessary
  • Dementia or other cognitive function limitations are affecting the person’s decision-making ability

There is also the possibility for limited guardianship, in the event that the senior is capable of maintaining control in certain aspects of life, while other areas are compromised.

Tips to Apply for Guardianship for an Elderly Parent
  • First, schedule a consultation with the senior’s doctor, who will need to determine whether guardianship is needed and complete a form attesting to the senior’s mental and physical functioning.
  • You can then file for guardianship at a probate court. The court will run a criminal background check, assess your monetary responsibilities, and investigate whether there are any conflicts of interest.
  • You are then legally obligated to inform both the senior and family members (as outlined within the estate code) of your intent to obtain guardianship.
  • Lastly, the court will designate a lawyer to represent the senior, and a decision will be made to determine what is in his/her best interest.

At Seniorcorp, we are here to help ensure all the needs of your aging parents are met. Contact us at 757-640-0557 to find out more about our award-winning senior services in Norfolk, VA and neighboring communities.