The life expectancy of the average American has increased over 20 years in the last century. This means that we are expected to live longer and chances are our parents and other older relatives will live longer as well. Overall, this is certainly good news; however, the reality is that living longer also increases the likelihood of suffering from an age-related dementia disease such as Alzheimer’s. If you have a parent, or other elderly relative, who you believe has reached a point at which he or she is no longer able to properly care for himself or herself you may need to step in and see guardianship. Understanding how to file for guardianship in St. Louis Missouri will be important if you make the difficult decision to seek guardianship.
It is never easy to face the reality that a loved one is incapacitated. You may feel as though you are taking away your loved one’s independence by petitioning to become his or her guardian. This is an emotional dilemma that many people face under similar circumstances. The important thing to remember is that your loved one may be at serious risk for physical harm or financial victimization if you fail to step in.
In Missouri, you can petition to become a Guardian or a conservator. A Guardian is someone who makes personal day-to-day decisions as well as healthcare decisions for the protected person (in this case your loved one). A conservator is someone who is responsible for protecting the assets, and managing the finances, of the protected person.
To be appointed as a guardian or a conservator you must file a petition in the appropriate court. In the petition you must allege the reasons why you think your loved one is in need of a Guardian or a conservator. Once the petition has been filed it will be served on the proposed protected person, or respondent, as well as other interested persons. Interested persons typically include a spouse, parent, adult children, trustees of any trusts created by the respondent, and anyone appointed as an agent in an advanced directive. The respondent has the right to object to the petition as do the other people who were notified. The respondent also has the right to an attorney.
Oregon does not require a hearing when a guardianship petition is filed but a hearing will be held if someone objects to the appointment. If a hearing is held, the court will listen to testimony and review evidence to try and determine if the respondent is in need of a guardian and/or conservator. The court will always try and find the least restrictive option. Often this means that the court will appoint a guardian and/or conservator but will limits the authority of the guardian or conservator.
If you are appointed as guardian and/or conservator the court will issue “letters” which will spell out in detail what authority the court has granted you. Because the guardianship process can become complicated, and because of what is at stake, it is best that you consult with your estate planning attorney if you decide that you wish to seek guardianship or conservatorship of a loved one.