If you are noticing a decline in the physical and mental abilities of your parent, you may worry about the vulnerable position into which these changes may place him or her. Many elderly parents may suffer injuries when they are alone and try to do for themselves. They may be unable to cook their own meals and forget to take their medication, leaving them subject to malnutrition or illness.
Some elderly parents can no longer manage their financial matters. They may forget to pay important bills or pay some bills twice. If this sounds like your loved one, you should be aware that this condition may also leave your parent defenseless against others who may take advantage of his or her cognitive decline. If your loved one has not executed a power of attorney, you may have no choice but to seek legal control of the situation.
What is best for your parent?
In Kansas, having the legal authority to manage someone else’s financial matters is called conservatorship. Handling other decisions for the well-being of a loved one is guardianship. There is no question that obtaining these authorities can be difficult on many levels. You may have to fight with other family members who disagree about the need for guardianship, and your loved one may dispute your petition. It can be an emotional struggle, but it may also be in the best interests of your parent.
You will have to go through an examination by the court to determine your fitness for the role, and your loved one may face a medical examination to confirm his or her level of competency. If the court approves you for guardianship, you may have the following duties and many others for your parent:
- Handling the day-to-day finances
- Creating a budget
- Paying bills
- Determining whether your parent should remain at home or move to a nursing care facility
- Maintaining, managing and perhaps selling your parent’s property, with court approval
- Scheduling and keeping medical appointments
- Making decisions about your parent’s medical care, including end-of-life decisions
- Reporting periodically to the court about your loved one’s well-being
Your loved one may be concerned about his or her loss of freedom and autonomy, so the courts usually encourage guardians and conservators to involve their wards in decision making as much as possible. An attorney with experience assisting conservators and guardians may guide you in obtaining the authority you need and managing the role you receive from the courts. Ideally, your parent may come to feel at peace with the decision, and you may rest assured that you have done your best for your loved one.