As your parents age, they may need assistance managing their personal and financial affairs, especially if they have disabilities. In New York, one way to provide this assistance is through guardianship.
Guardianship is a legal relationship where the court appoints an individual, the guardian, to manage the personal and/or financial affairs of another person, the ward. If your parents need regular assistance, you may wonder if it is time to seek guardianship for them. Understanding the reasons for seeking guardianship can help you make informed decisions about your parent’s care.
Your parent’s capacity
You need to consider guardianship if your parent cannot make or communicate sound decisions about their personal or financial matters due to a physical or mental condition. These conditions might include dementia, stroke or severe physical disabilities that impair their capacity.
Less restrictive options
Before seeking guardianship, explore less restrictive alternatives. If your parent has some decision-making capacity, tools like power of attorney or healthcare proxy might suffice. Only when these less restrictive options are not feasible or effective should you consider guardianship.
The need for guardianship
Guardianship may be necessary if your parent can no longer care for themselves, manage their finances, or make sound healthcare decisions. This step can ensure your parent’s health, safety and well-being, and it can protect their assets.
The guardianship process
Applying for guardianship can be a complex process involving medical examinations, court papers and a hearing. If the court determines that guardianship is necessary, it will issue an order detailing the guardian’s duties and powers.
Your parent’s rights
While considering guardianship, always respect your parent’s rights and dignity. Involve them in the decision-making process as much as possible. Remember, the goal is to provide your parent with the best care and protection.
Establishing guardianship for an elderly, disabled parent is a significant decision with serious responsibilities. If your parent is struggling with daily life due to disability or aging and other options are not adequate, you might need to consider guardianship.