So you think that your elderly parent is no longer able to make sound personal and medical decisions, and might be in need of a guardian? Before filing a petition for guardianship, here are some of the main things you should consider:
- Does your elderly parent already have a health care directive in place? If so, this may be a “lesser restrictive alternative” to guardianship.
- Do you have physician support for the guardianship? Although not technically required, in order to be successful on your guardianship petition, physician’s support is recommended. If you can’t get it (because of HIPPA), you may need to rely on behavioral evidence alone. If you are the current health care agent under a health care directive, you should try to get physician’s support.
- If you are thinking of being the guardian, you need to consider the impact that being guardian will have on your relationship with the parent. Often times the elderly individual resents the guardian and is hostile. Sometimes children may want to petition, but ask that a neutral individual (or professional) be appointed as guardian.
- Are you prepared to make tough choices? A guardian makes tough choices – medical decisions, where to live, supervisory decisions. The decisions aren’t always easy, black and white decisions. Before taking on this important role, you need to make sure you are prepared for the challenges that it will present.
- Will filing for guardianship of your elderly parent cause friction among you and your siblings? Oftentimes siblings feud over whether mom or dad even need a guardian, or who the is best person to be guardian. Before filing the petition, you should ascertain whether you have the support of your siblings and, to the extent that you don’t have their support, you must be prepared to forge ahead for what you believe is right for your parent.