Elderly Individuals

Elderly Individuals

Hypothetical Situation:

  • Grandfather (a widower) has been self-sufficient his entire lifetime.  He still drives, talks to his doctors alone, and manages his financial portfolio.  He has been doing everything himself, with no help, since his wife passed away.  
  • Other family members start noticing Grandfather slipping (forgetting appointments, people's names, getting lost while driving, bouncing checks, etc.).  The situation seems to be getting dangerous.  
  • A family meeting occurs in which Grandfather's family members tell him their concerns, including asking him if it would be ok to set him up for some extra help around the house.  
  • Maybe Grandfather agrees and welcomes all of the help and love his family will give him.  
  • Although what if Grandfather is too incapacitated to recognize his deficits and does not want anyone to help him?

Will a Power of Attorney help the family?

Yes, a Power of Attorney may do everything a family needs. However, in other situations, a Power of Attorney may not be as enforceable as the family hopes.

  • Power of Attorneys can normally be ripped up in a moments notice and therefore are no longer valid.  Elderly people sometimes get paranoid and accuse family members of trying to take advantage of them.  If they revoke the power of attorney, it's no longer helpful.
  • A Power of Attorney is, however, helpful in most court proceedings.  Depending on when it was executed, a Power of Attorney can help paint the court a picture of what the Ward was thinking during a period of time in which the Ward was thinking clearly without deficits.  

How can Guardianship help?

Adult Guardianship is put into place by a court Order.  If the Ward decides one morning that they no longer want their court-appointed GOP (presumably a family member) as their guardian, they do not have the power to change anything.  Only the Court can modify powers.  This protection is what drives many families to file a guardianship petition.  

When is Guardianship the right move?

A saying that flies around the courthouse, time after time, is 'I know I waited too long, I just wasn't sure it was the right time.'

Guardianship is a protection, not a punishment. Hopefully your loved ones have an estate plan that has been executed and ready to be activated. Sometimes, it's too late. Other times, even with an estate plan, Guardianship is necessary.