Do You and Your Elderly Parents Want to Avoid a Guardianship?

Do You and Your Elderly Parents Want to Avoid a Guardianship?

Yes — avoid a guardianship if at all possible.

A number of people today suffer from dementia in their elder years. Sometimes families don’t realize the extent of their parents’ memory loss and its legal implications. Family members often live in other states or visit infrequently. By the time they discover their parents’ dementia, the parents lack the legal capacity to create a will or put other estate planning measures in place.

The proper legal remedy for this situation often involves establishing a full guardianship under Florida Statutes Chapter 744. Typically the court assigns one or more of the family’s children to oversee the parents’ financial, medical and personal care.

Unfortunately, when families find their elderly family members in this situation, no one knows what their wishes are and questions such as the following arise:

  • What kind of medical treatment are they willing to endure in the event of a terminal illness diagnosis?
  • Would they want to be resuscitated if they stop breathing, have a feeding tube inserted or be put on a ventilator?
  • What pain medication are they willing to take?

The way to avoid unknown wishes such as these is to draft a living will before health conditions become critical.

However, in addition to your relatives’ medical preferences, there are also other issues. Would your parents prefer to enter a nursing home or receive around-the-clock care at their residence through a caregiver? Which family member would they want to deal with their finances? When they pass on, do they want a burial or cremation?

Ultimately, when little or no estate planning exists, the burden of making decisions falls on other loved ones. Many law firms regard guardianships as a last resort decision. Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney ahead of time and avoid a guardianship whenever possible. Lawyers have better estate planning tools to help you make decisions and bring your family peace of mind.