When your parent has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, you and your family have many things to address regarding the required care and safety. You may need to consider guardianship to safeguard your loved one from physical and financial harm.
What is legal guardianship?
A court-appointed guardian can make financial and health care decisions for someone unable to do so because of illness, injury, dementia or other disabilities. Courts, after a hearing, can appoint a guardian when a person can no longer make appropriate decisions regarding finances or medical care.
How do you become a legal guardian?
To become a guardian, a petition must be filed with the Orphans’ Court explaining why it may be necessary to appoint a guardian of the person (medical decisions) and/or a guardian of the estate (financial decisions). This process takes time and requires court testimony and a thorough understanding of your Pennsylvania’s rules and guardianship proceedings.
Does your family member need a guardian?
When someone with dementia cannot take care of themselves or their health or make sound financial judgments, guardianship may be necessary. If appointed as a guardian, you make monetary and medical decisions to protect your loved one’s safety and overall well-being. The court supervises your actions by requiring you to file an Inventory of your ward’s assets and to file annual reports concerning your ward’s health and financial matters.
Can you have more than one guardian for your parent?
In Pennsylvania, you can have co-guardians. However, the co-guardians must work together to make decisions for their ward. The court would settle any disagreements. Typically, it is best to appoint only one person to serve as a guardian. There could be one person appointed as guardian of the person and another person appointed as guardian of the estate to split the responsibility.
In addition to taking care of your parent’s physical health, it is vital to protect their assets as well. Petitioning the court for legal guardianship may be needed to help your loved one.