Ask the Alzheimer’s Expert! What is a Guardianship?

Ask the Alzheimer’s Expert! What is a Guardianship?

GuardianshipAsk the Alzheimer’s Expert

Ask the Alzheimer’s Expertis brought to you each week by Elayne Forgie and the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center.

Question:  What is a Guardianship?

Answer: If a person can no longer make financial or health care decisions, a family member, friend, caregiver or health care professional may ask the court to appoint a guardian.

A guardian is court-appointed to make decisions about the person’s property, and/or health care.  The scope of their authority varies by the needs of the individual and by the requirements and laws in the state where the individual resides.

Guardianships can be expensive legal proceedings and should only be considered as a last resort for decision making and management of a person’s personal and financial affairs.  Proper planning, including power of attorney, advance directives and other legal documents can avoid the need and expense of a guardian.

Guardianship is established by the court when it finds that a person does not have the legal capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions about his or her person or property and there is no other alternative.

If possible, retain legal advise and services from an attorney who specializes in elder law.  Elder law attorneys focus on disability planning, guardianship, probate, and estate planning and other legal issues that affect older adults.  If you have a family attorney, he or she may be able to refer you to an elder law attorney.

You can submit your question to Ask the Alzheimer’s Expert, here.  Replies are confidential.