If you have an older family member or loved one who is showing signs of being unable to properly care for himself/herself as a result of a dementia disease or other incapacitating condition, I may be time to consider taking legal steps to protect your loved one. This often leads to the question “ When do I need a guardianship? ” Guardianship is a legal proceeding that requires you to petition the appropriate court to be appointed as guardian of your loved one. Because the process can take some time it is always best to get started as soon as the need for a guardianship becomes apparent.
Ultimately, you should consult with an experienced Missouri estate planning attorney if you are concerned that a guardianship may be necessary; however, some of the more common signs that it is time to consider guardianship include:
Physical disability – if your loved one suffers from physical disabilities it is obviously harder for him or her to get around, making it more difficult to care for himself/herself.
Forgetting things – even if your loved one has yet to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another old age related dementia disease, look for signs that your loved one is having trouble remembering things that should easily be remembered.
Unpaid bills – Are the utilities bills not being paid? Are medical bills piling up even though you are certain the money is there to pay the bills? If so, it may be a sign that your loved one is unable to properly manage his or her finances which could lead to victimization by unscrupulous individuals who prey on the elderly.
Falls or injuries – has your loved one fallen recently or have you seen signs of injuries that cannot be explained? If so, it could be a sign of incapacity.
Medication management – Is your loved one taking his/her medication as prescribed or are doses being taken late of forgotten altogether? Forgetting to take necessary medications can be extremely dangerous, even life-threatening and may call for intervention on your part.
If any of these signs are present it may be time to sit down with your Missouri estate planning attorney and discuss the possibility of seeking guardianship of your loved one.