The decision to seek guardianship or conservatorship for a loved one is always difficult, but it can be essential to ensuring their well-being. However, not everyone recognizes when it is time to seek a guardianship or when it is appropriate, so it is important to understand the circumstances that can lead to someone needing a guardian. Here are five major reasons you should seek guardianship for your loved one:
- They are a minor child without a parent to care for them
- One of the most common reasons to seek guardianship, of course, is to get a guardian for a minor child who does not have a parent to care for them. No child is entirely capable of caring for themselves, and they need an adult who can watch for their needs until they become legal adults. A guardianship can ensure they are cared for and their needs are met, until they are able to care for themselves. Children are also not legally permitted to directly receive inheritances until they turn eighteen years old, and require a guardian to manage any inheritances or significant income they obtain.
- They are an elderly relative suffering from dementia
- Another important reason to seek guardianship for a loved one is if they are an elderly relative suffering from the effects of dementia. As their conditions progress, your loved one will be less and less capable of caring for themselves, so it is important to make sure there is someone with authority to make vital medical and financial decisions on their behalf. That way, they will not only be cared for, but they will be protected from potential exploitation.
- They are an adult with a severe developmental disability
- Unfortunately, many people born with developmental disabilities grow up without the ability to adequately care for themselves without assistance. For these people, a guardianship can serve as a tool to ensure their needs are met while they focus on their own well-being. In particular, guardians of developmentally disabled adults can help handle legal, financial, or medical decisions they may not be equipped to handle on their own.
- They have suffered a severe illness or injury
- No one is immune from severe illness or injury, and they can happen at any time, leaving a previously healthy person unable to handle their own basic needs. When that happens, a guardianship can help to handle their affairs while they recover. That way, they can focus on their health without worrying about issues like paying their bills. Guardianships do not have to be permanent, and can be terminated if medical professionals and the courts determine that an adjudicated incapacitated person has regained their capacity to make decisions for themselves.
- They have suffered from a psychological breakdown
- Psychological ailments can be just as debilitating as physical illness, and when someone suffers from a psychological breakdown, they may not be in a state to handle their own affairs. If this happens, it can be worthwhile to seek guardianship over them to ensure they are appropriately cared for. However, to determine whether that might be appropriate, you should speak to a lawyer with experience handling guardianship applications.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones, and Sweeney understand that the aging population has specific and diverse needs. The firm helps seniors and their families by handling all aspects of elder law including guardianships, end of life planning, asset preservation, Medicaid planning, and trusts and estates issues. If you need to consult on elder law issues, call The Law Offices of Hunziker, Jones & Sweeney at (973) 256-0456 or fill out our contact form for a consultation.