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Elder Planning Isn't Just For The Elderly

Stepping up for the good of your loved one

If you have fond memories of your loved one caring for you as a child, you may be struggling with watching them grow older, more fragile. Seeing a parent decline in health and mental capacity can be upsetting and concerning, and sometimes it means you have to make difficult decisions.

When parents are no longer able to manage wise financial or medical decisions on their own, someone must act in their best interests. Unless your loved one has a designated power of attorney, you will have to file for guardianship with a New York court.

What will guardianship allow you to do?

With the authority of the court, you will take over the legal rights of your parent. You will take care of any tasks your parent is no longer able to handle, such as paying bills, consenting to medical decisions and helping with daily routines. The goal of a guardian is to consult with their ward as much as possible and to make decisions that offer the least restrictions to your loved one.

Depending on the circumstances and health of your parent, you may be obliged to handle any of these situations:

  • Choosing a nursing home or in-home care for your parent
  • Monitoring and recording financial transactions from your parent's accounts
  • Paying for goods and services for your parent
  • Making critical life and death decisions if your parent's health declines

Your authority as your parent's guardian may not extend to all of these areas, or it may go further, depending on the court order. Other trustees may be designated to control certain interests, such as medical or financial decisions. At certain times, the court will require a report of your parent's well-being and the status of the guardianship.

What if I need advice?

There's no question that the decision to seek guardianship was painful, and perhaps it left you at odds with other family members. However, in the best interests of your loved one, you are willing to take on this responsibility. If family members do not support you, you may feel alone and uncertain.

Having a legal advocate to guide you through the process of obtaining guardianship and advise you in your duties may provide you with more confidence. This time in your life may be among the most difficult phases to go through, but you may find it a little easier with experienced and compassionate legal counsel by your side.

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Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP

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