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Guardianship of a loved one

Guardianships may be needed when loved ones in Pittsburgh have special needs or become unable to take care of themselves or have illnesses, such as Alzheimer's disease. Family members who have an elderly loved one or a special needs relative must understand how the law works in these matters with help from an attorney experienced in Orphans' Court litigation.

One of the hardest parts of life is having an elderly parent, grandparent or other relative who cannot make decisions on his or her own. Once the realization has been made that help is needed with medical decisions or financial matters, the options in dealing with the situation, including guardianship, must be reviewed to help provide the person with the care that he or she needs.

With special needs children, it is likely that, when they turn 18 and reach adulthood, guardianships might be required to protect them. Similar to elderly loved ones, that protection can include having a guardian appointed to make living arrangements and medical decisions as well as to handle government benefits, including Social Security and Medicaid, depending on the severity of the special needs children's illnesses, conditions or injuries.

In Pennsylvania, the case will be heard in Orphans' Court. It is there that the decision can be made to find the person legally incapacitated and to appoint a guardian of the person for placement and medical decisions and a guardian of the estate to handle financial matters. An attorney experienced in Orphans' Court litigation can help to prepare the family for what lies ahead in establishing the guardianship. While deciding if a guardianship is necessary can be difficult and the responsibility of serving as a guardian can be worrisome, getting good legal advice about how the process works and what the law says about these matters is integral to a successful outcome.

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