This article will discuss how to become a legal guardian for an elderly person and alternatives to guardianship.
Why Do I Need to get Guardianship for my Parents?
If one or both of your parents have been unable to handle their own affairs, you’ll need guardianship to have the legal authority to manage their affairs for them and to make healthcare decisions. The inability to handle their affairs can be persistent or intermittent.
For example, someone with intermittent incapacity might be too ill to handle their affairs for more than a week or so at a time. A problem such a person might face would be if they have investments in the stock market and something happens that indicates they should sell a particular investment, but they don’t because of their temporary incapacity.
When the duration of temporary incapacity is long enough for their power to be turned off or unpaid bills to cause damage to their credit rating, it is a sign that they need a guardian.
How to Become a Legal Guardian for an Elderly Person
There are several steps involved in becoming the legal guardian of someone who is not able to handle their own affairs. The first step is deciding if you’re eligible to serve as a guardian.
Who should request an emergency guardianship of an elderly parent?
If there are multiple children in the family and some of them have a criminal record, the child with a clean record should request a guardianship. It is best for siblings not to fight over who becomes guardian because the court may name a third party instead of feuding siblings to avoid friction in the family.
What is the Guardianship Process?
- Notice that the person may be incapacitated
- Consult a guardianship attorney for guidance
- Gather evidence which may include a psychological evaluation
- Submit the guardianship request to District Court
- Attend the hearing and demonstrate the need for a guardian to the court’s satisfaction
How to Obtain Guardianship for a Parent with Dementia?
The process for obtaining guardianship for a parent suffering from dementia is not different from the process for any other type of incapacity. If the onset of dementia is rapid, an emergency guardianship hearing can be requested to obtain guardianship quickly.
What are my Duties as a Guardian?
There are three types of guardianships. One is a guardian of the estate. A guardian of the estate only has the authority to manage assets for the protected person. A guardian of the person only has the authority to make decisions for the person, much as a parent does for a child. The third type is a guardian who has responsibility for the protected person and their finances.
If you have guardianship responsibilities for the estate, you must manage their assets including cash, collecting rents, paying bills, managing real estate, investments, and other assets.
The guardian of the estate must also:
- Provide an inventory of the assets to the court within 60 days
- Post a bond as protection against mishandling of the protected person assets
- Periodically file an accounting of assets, income, and expenses with the court
- Obtain court approval to spend or invest the protected person money
- Obtain court approval for the sale of real estate
A guardian of the person can decide where the protected person will live and is responsible for providing food and medical care for the ward. A Guardian of the person must provide for the necessities of living such as food, clothing, shelter, emotional and medical needs of the ward. The guardian of the person must obtain court approval before authorizing life-threatening medical treatments or committing them to a psychiatric facility.
If my parent dies without a will, as guardian, can I distribute their assets?
No, both durable powers of attorney and guardianship terminate with death. As soon as someone dies, their executor or administrator must apply to the court for the power to distribute their assets.
Are there Alternatives to Guardianships?
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable Power of Attorney (POA) is a document any competent adult can execute that provides instructions that will be implemented if you become incapacitated or legally incompetent to handle your affairs.
Living Trust with Bank Trustee
A living trust is a useful document for bypassing probate. It can also be useful if you become incompetent. A bank trustee can manage your assets and you’ll rest easy knowing that there is regulatory oversight and a fiduciary level of responsibility that ensures the trustee acts prudently and in your best interests.
Whether you need to seek guardianship for an elderly relative with dementia, advice about setting up a Power of Attorney, or advice about acting as POA, contact a guardianship lawyer in Las Vegas for your needs.
For more than 30 years, Attorney Lee A. Drizin has practiced in the areas of estate planning, probate, trusts, guardianship and real estate matters representing clients throughout the state of Nevada.
Drizin Law is providing this information for educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. This information is based on general principles of Nevada law at the time it was created and you should be aware laws frequently change. Moreover, the laws affecting you may differ depending on the circumstances. You should consult with a qualified attorney in your own state or jurisdiction concerning your particular situation. Review of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.