As we age, so do our parents. Though this is a simple enough fact to understand, it can be extremely difficult to accept – particularly when the natural aging process begins to cause a role reversal between parent and child. If you have a parent who appears to be succumbing to the aging process and you are concerned about his or her ability to continue living and/or making decisions independently you may find yourself asking the question – “ How do I know when my parent needs a guardian? ” Making the decision to pursue guardianship over a parent is typically a heart wrenching decision that can only be made after careful consideration and consultation with both medical professionals and your Missouri estate planning attorney. There are, however, some common signs that guardianship may be necessary, including:
Physical signs – if your parent’s physical health is deteriorating and you notice things such as increased injuries and/or reduced mobility it may be time for you to step in and help. Additionally, if your parent has a terminal condition it will most likely be necessary for someone to begin making decisions for your parent as the condition progresses.
Mental signs – has your parent been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another old age related dementia disease? If so, a guardian will almost certainly be needed at some point. Even if no diagnosis has been made, look for signs that your parent is forgetting important things on a regular basis. Forgetting to take medication, not remembering where he/she lives, or forgetting mealtimes, for example, are potentially life threatening and are definitely a sign that a guardian is needed.
Financial signs – are bills begin to pile up? Has the electricity/water/cable been shut off for non-payment recently even though you know your parent has the funds to pay the bill? Has your parent spent unusual sums of money recently without being able to provide an explanation for the expenditures? Is cash or other valuables missing from your parent’s home? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” it may be time for a guardian.
Ultimately, the best way to decide if your parent needs a guardian is to consult with your estate planning attorney. If a guardian is needed, your attorney can explain the process required to petition for guardianship.
If you have additional questions or concerns about the guardianship process in the State of Missouri, or about estate planning in general, contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.