If the time has come to seek a guardian for your loved one, you’re probably already feeling overwhelmed with emotions, from confusion to guilt to sadness. To further complicate matters, you inevitably have many questions and concerns. You haven’t done this before, and you don’t know where to begin. Here are some of the most common concerns.

When is a guardianship necessary?

A guardianship is typically a last resort when a vulnerable adult needs assistance managing their affairs and no longer is able to execute or refuses to execute a Durable Power of Attorney, or someone has a Durable Power of Attorney in place but that Power of Attorney is not working to provide for the safety and protection of the vulnerable adult.

Do I have to be the guardian?

No. If you know that your loved one has reached the point of being declared an incapacitated adult, but you aren’t able to, or don’t feel that it’s in your loved one’s best interest, to be that guardian, other arrangements can be made. In fact, it doesn’t need to be anyone related to your parent. An unrelated third party professional guardian can become the legal guardian.

Will my loved one give up his/her right to make all decisions?

Not necessarily. Depending on the level of incapacitation as deemed by the court, a limited guardianship may be appropriate. This would allow your loved one to get the assistance necessary without giving up all decision-making ability.

What if my family members and I can’t decide who should be the guardian?

Family members can be your greatest support system during these challenging times. However, infighting among family members during stressful times is common and understandable. Each family member will have the opportunity to express their opinion related to the appointment of a guardian to the court and it is ultimately up to a judge (or very rarely a jury) to decide what is in your loved one’s best interest.

If you feel that a loved one needs a guardian, the attorneys at Northwest Elder Law Group are able to answer any questions you may have and provide compassionate legal representation as you advocate for your loved one’s needs.