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What Does it Mean to Have Guardianship Over a Parent?

Parents take care of their children for the first 18 years of life, and sometimes long afterward. When your parents reach old age, you may need to take over their care and the tasks associated with their daily lives. Guardianship over a parent is also called conservatorship. It is a legal option that gives you the ability to make decisions and handle finances on behalf of your loved one. Guardianship is something that you cannot take lightly; you and your siblings must make critical choices about how and when to request this type of action.

What is Guardianship Over a Parent?

Most people know what guardianship can be over a child, but there is also guardianship over a parent. The State of Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services provides guidelines for adult guardianship. A guardian of an adult is a person appointed by the court to act on behalf of an adult who has functional impairment in decision-making or communication that meets the legal standard for incompetence. The guardian must always carry out their duties in a manner that is least restrictive to the individual. Only a guardian appointed through the court can make decisions for a parent.

What Does a Guardian Do?

There are many tasks that a guardian is required to do after they are appointed. Some of the most critical responsibilities of a guardian include deciding on living arrangements, consenting to medical treatment, handling finances, paying bills, keeping financial records, managing the estate, releasing confidential information, and making end-of-life care decisions, among others. In addition, the guardian must report the status to the court no less than annually.

A guardian should seek input from the parent whenever it is possible to do so. You want to make choices that are in the best interest of the parent and at the same time are approved by the parent. The court will provide you with limited or broad authority and you must stay within the guidelines when you make choices for your parents. Typically, guardians are family members and they do not receive compensation for their appointment.

How to Obtain Guardianship for a Parent

A person seeking guardianship must submit a request to the court. The court will first make a determination as to whether the adult is incompetent. They use many factors to decide this, such as age, impairment, lack of evaluative capacity, and risk of harm, among others. If the court finds impairment, they must also verify that there is a need for guardianship. Then, the court will determine that guardianship is the best solution and will decide on which rights or powers the guardian will have.

Seeking guardianship can be a complicated matter and therefore it is often best to get guidance from an experienced attorney. Your lawyer will review the details of your specific situation and help gather the documentation necessary to proceed with getting a court order. At Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd, we have the expertise to handle complex guardianship matters. Contact us today online at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. or call us at (608) 784-8310 for a free consultation.

Published September 1, 2020
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