As a caretaker to a parent with Alzheimer's disease, it might be necessary at some point for you to ask the court for legal guardianship of him or her. Legal guardianship is necessary to make legal, financial, and medical decisions for your parent. If you are considering guardianship, here is what you need to know.
Is Guardianship Necessary?
If your parent is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease, it is easy to determine when he or she needs assistance. However, if your parent is in the earlier stages, it can be more difficult to determine if it is time to seek legal guardianship.
When assessing whether or not guardianship is needed, consider your parent's ability to handle his or her finances and health care. Signs to look for:
- Refusing to take medication
- Missing doctor's appointments
- Poor hygiene
- Unpaid bills
- Unexplained missing money
- Unexplained injuries and accidents, such as falling
Talk to your parent's other caretakers, medical care providers, and friends and family for help with evaluating your parent's condition if you are unsure of whether or not guardianship is necessary.
What Can You Do?
If you have determined that guardianship is necessary, it is important to understand the process can be challenging. The court is essentially taking your parent's rights and giving them to you. Although it might sound drastic, if it is necessary to protect your parent, it might be necessary.
To start the process, you need to file a petition with the court. You also need to start collecting evidence that shows your parent is incapable of making decisions for himself or herself.
Your parent's medical care providers can provide assistance with collecting evidence. Affidavits from them can help show the level of competence your parent has. You can also ask the court to subpoena your parent's medical records. In addition to these steps, you can ask family and friends to testify to your parent's capabilities.
Before your court hearing, you need to create a care plan for your parent. The court needs to know that you are capable of handling your parent's affairs. Your character will be as closely examined as your parent's competency. A background check of your financial history and criminal background might be conducted by the court.
To get through the process as efficiently as possible, talk to a family law attorney. The attorney can help with each step of the process, including filing the petition with the family court.