You may not have seen it coming. Your strong-willed, intelligent, and loving parent that nurtured and raised you the best they could is now having some problems that greatly concern you. Maybe they are starting to forget certain things, like paying bills on time, taking their medication, eating regularly, or misplacing their keys. It may have started slowly, but there is no denying that something needs to be done to protect your parent’s health and finances, and they deserve no less.
Depending on the relationship between you and your parent and any cooperation you can muster from them, an attorney may recommend filing for a plenary (full) or limited guardianship, naming you as your parent’s guardian to help them manage their affairs. After filing, the court may want to review their medical records, but a letter from a doctor is mandatory and must contain a medical diagnosis for the person to be protected and a statement that they recommend a guardianship for their patient. A psychological evaluation is not mandatory, but the court prefers one on file to confirm any mental diagnosis that may be affect your parent’s ability to care for themselves.
The plenary guardianship is the most restrictive form because all normal adult rights are removed from the parent and granted to you to make decisions in his/her best interests. This may be necessary for more extreme cases of incapacity.
The limited guardianship only gives the guardian the right to manage court designated rights of the parent when they are able to continue managing some affairs but not others. The major areas involved in limited guardianships are:
- Habilitation, which includes support services
If your loved ones are unable, due to incapacity, to understand these rights and exercise them well, a judge can appoint you or another qualified guardian to make decisions that will benefit and protect them from harm or abuse.
Armed with medical records, a physician's and/or psychologist's diagnosis, and an experienced judge’s determination as to the necessity of guardianship, and to what extent, you should not feel guilty if you must proceed with guardianship action. It is an act of love and concern that has been determined necessary to protect the one’s that always cared and protected you.