If you have aging family members, it can be a good idea to discuss with them how to plan for their possible incapacitation by setting up a power of attorney or selecting someone who could serve as a guardian. If not, a court may pick a guardian in the event your parent or grandparent becomes disabled and cannot make personal medical or financial decisions.
FindLaw explains that a court will make a determination based on various factors. Hopefully, your loved one could still express his or her preference for a guardian even if disabled. In the event your family member cannot communicate, a judge may look at other ways to pick a guardian.
Documents made before incapacitation
A court will likely check any legal document in which your family member expressed a desire for someone to take over his or her financial and medical decision making. A power of attorney document is one example. A POA may be able to take over as a guardian or perhaps nominate someone to serve as a guardian.
In the event your relative did not sign a POA, a judge may check your loved one’s will to see if your family member named a prospective guardian for any purpose. The judge may consider the person in the will as a possible candidate.
Choosing from available family members
Without a document like a power of attorney, a court will likely choose from close adult family members. If your relative has a spouse and is not incapacitated, a court may view him or her as a natural choice. Other choices may include parents, adult children or siblings.
While it may be logical to pick a relative for a guardianship, sometimes this is not a desirable outcome. Sometimes family members are not on good terms. Even if a relative like an adult child is eager to help a parent, he or she may not have the skills or time to become a guardian. This is why setting up a guardianship or power of attorney in advance may be a beneficial move.