Age, illness or a combination of the two sometimes cause people physical or mental incapacity. If your elderly parent reaches such a point, you may consider stepping in to take control of his or her affairs. Although some things you will have the ability to handle without any type of legal action, other needs require you to have legal authority.
Before seeking guardianship of an elderly parent, you should consider your legal responsibilities in that role.
Acting in the interests of your parent
According to the Orphan’s Court Division for the Sixth Judicial District of Pennsylvania, once named guardian for an elderly parent, you have a legal obligation to protect his or her property and rights. Depending on the authority granted to you, you may be appointed as guardian of the estate and be given authority to handle financial matters. You may be appointed as guardian of the person and would have the authority to make decisions regarding your parent’s personal well-being. For example, guardianship may let you choose where your parent will live and make medical decisions on his or her behalf.
Filing annual reports
Within the first year of becoming your parent’s guardian, you must make a report to the court. As guardian of the person, your report will dictate your parent’s mental condition, health, support program and living situation. Additionally, you will give details about your own performance. For instance, this includes listing the number and time duration of visits with your parent. As guardian of the estate, your report will include information about your parent’s income and the expenses you are paying. You may need to ask permission from the court to spend principal. These type of reports will need to be filed annually.
Considering a time when the people who raised and cared for you can no longer care for themselves likely carries challenges. However, if your parents have not planned ahead, taking steps such as obtaining guardianship may help ensure you have the ability to give them the support that they gave you.