How to File for Guardianship of a Parent

by Contributor

Sometimes adult children are faced with the difficult realization that a parent is not able to keep up with his personal and financial affairs any longer. Becoming a guardian or conservator of your parent, however scary or strange it seems, could be necessary in order to protect his estate. Having an incapacity for decision-making could make a parent susceptible to undue fraud and scams, unless you take steps to protect them as their official guardian.

Talk with friends, family and your parent's doctor. If you are uneasy while deciding whether or not you should file for the guardianship of your parent, discuss your concerns with as many medical and psychological professionals as possible. Most notably, your parent's doctor will need to give a recommendation to the court before you will be granted guardianship, so be sure to speak with him thoroughly, getting all of your questions answered.

Partner with your parent. Often, your job of being the guardian of your parent is ultimately to figure out the things that she would want and to be her advocate in reaching those goals. Your parent might feel helpless in forfeiting her rights; however, letting her know that you are working for her and absolutely will not let anything hurt her, will make her more at ease.

Check for alternatives. Two possible avenues to look into are power of attorney and having a living trust drawn up. A power of attorney will let your parent be the one to appoint you in helping him manage his finances and undertake other responsibilities that he may be unable to manage alone. Your parent could also choose to establish what is called a living trust, which legally assigns ownership of his assets to you, as the trustee. Talking to your attorney with your parent present is advised, in order to choose the best options for his protection.

File a petition for guardianship of your parent. Establishing legal guardianship involves removing his individual rights, so a considerable amount of due process goes into the decision. The doctor's recommendation should accompany the petition. Your attorney can type this up and file it for you, or you can simply file with the clerk in your courthouse. There may be a hearing set for determination of guardianship; be sure that you and your parent both attend, if possible.

Monitor all necessary aspects of being a good guardian once it is ordered. Take care of important tasks and coordinate professional services that your incapacitated parent needs, such as choosing caretaker and in-home care services. An annual review will be done to determine the effectiveness of the guardian and also to assess the possible restoration of your parent's rights, if her health has improved.