If you have a parent who is suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s or another illness, he or she may no longer be able to responsibly handle their own financial, health and daily affairs. Family members who are caring for a loved one need to protect them from their own bad decisions, and protect them from fraud and being financially or even physically abused. For adult children who recognize that a parent has become vulnerable are often uncomfortable discussing the situation with their parent. Some parents recognize the problem and ask their children for assistance.
However, with illnesses like Alzheimer’s and dementia, many parents do not see they are facing a health crisis and will fight any loss of independence and control, even from their own children. In these situations, the caregiver may have to go to court to become the parent’s legal guardian.
Guardianship is a legal term that refers to the legal right to make decisions for someone else. Guardianship may be necessary for someone in situations including:
In Illinois, there are two basic categories of guardianship: guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate:
Obtaining a guardianship involves going through a formal legal process in the appropriate circuit court. If the parent is fighting the guardianship, they may hire their own attorney to represent their interests in court.
There is no one-fits-all solution to protecting a parent who is no longer able to care for themself. Hiring an elder law attorney can provide you with the best options to protect a vulnerable parent, such as a power of attorney or guardianship. If there are disagreements within the family about the parent’s care, an experienced elder law and guardianship attorney can educate the family about what a legal guardian or power of attorney can and cannot do.
A legal guardian should make decisions as his or her parent would have made the same decisions – and not make decisions the guardian would prefer.
If you have questions about caring for a parent who can no longer care for themself, contacting a knowledgeable guardianship and elder law attorney may be a good next step to help you understand the legal process in guardianship cases, represent you in court, suggest alternatives to guardianship, or provide other assistance as you seek to protect you and your family’s legal rights. To set up an initial meeting, contact the Estate and Probate Legal Group today at 630-864-5835.