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Is it time to seek guardianship over your aging parent?

As parents age, changes in their mental or physical condition may occur that may necessitate an adult child’s intervention. When you start to become alarmed for your parent’s health, financial wellbeing and physical safety, it may warrant pursuing legal guardianship. 

Guardianship goes beyond the legal authority granted in a power of attorney. It gives control of a person’s legal affairs to someone else if a judge finds he or she cannot make competent decisions. Consider some of the signs that you need to take this step to protect your aging parent. 

Major mishandling of finances 

You may find that your mother or father has not paid bills or taken care of other financial tasks over a startling period of time. You may discover that money is gone and accounts overdrawn. Have one or both of your parents squandered money earmarked for healthcare needs? If you have evidence that your parent is no longer able to handle his or her financial affairs, and continuing to do so is a detriment, then you may want to move forward with guardianship proceedings. 

Refusal to revisit estate planning documents 

A medical diagnosis that indicates dementia or a loss of brain function is startling and difficult to handle. Hearing this news should prompt conversations between you and your parent as to medical wishes, future medical care and the like. If your parent refuses to speak about these plans or revisit his or her estate plan, this obstinance may spell trouble. 

You may need to act fast to protect your parent from doing further damage. Getting legal guardianship is a process, so starting it sooner is more beneficial than waiting until it becomes an emergency. 

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