Meinzer Law Firm, PC

Is it time to assume legal authority over your ailing parent?

Some people like to say that the relationship between parents and children turns inside out as kids grow up. When infants are born, their parents must dedicate a lot of energy toward keeping them safe and ensuring that they meet all of their needs, from adequate, safe rest to appropriate food.

As parents grow older and their children themselves become parents, the first generation of the family may soon find themselves dependent on their children for the necessities of life. Adults with medical conditions ranging from physical impairments to cognitive decline can find themselves reliant on their children for everything from getting to and from doctors' appointments to feeding themselves.

At some point, you may begin to wonder whether your parent is still cognitively and legally capable of functioning without support. If you have begun to question your parent's ability to care for themselves, you may need to consider seeking a conservatorship.

A conservatorship protects your loved one and their legacy

When people begin to experience physical and cognitive decline in the later years of life, they can make questionable decisions or fail to act in a timely and responsible manner. Anything from forgetting to pay a mortgage to selling valuable assets for a fraction of their actual fair market value could happen.

Older adults are often targeted by unscrupulous individuals who intend to abuse them for financial gain. These individuals could be anyone from caretakers to family members. One of the best ways to protect your loved one from those who would take advantage of their diminished mental capacity is to obtain authority over their financial decisions.

A conservatorship basically puts a different adult in charge of making important medical, financial and legal decisions for someone who can no longer do so for themselves. That means that there won't be the opportunity for someone to victimize your loved one or take advantage of their condition. It also means you can protect their estate and their intended legacy from unnecessary dissipation.

Your loved one may not feel happy about your decision

It is common for people to feel complex emotions about their diminished legal capacity as they experience cognitive decline related to aging. While you may see that it is obvious that your loved one needs support and guidance, they may not agree. Other family members may side with your loved one, either hoping to curry favor or perhaps because they are in denial about the severity of your parent's condition.

Even if your loved one does not agree, if you have documentation of their compromised decision-making abilities, you can typically ask the courts to step in and assign authority to you or another adult. While it may not be the most pleasant of proceedings, it may protect your loved one from abuse and give you peace of mind that they receive the care and support they require as they age.

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