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The difficult decision to seek guardianship

Watching a parent decline in physical or mental health is a difficult part of life. If you have noticed your parent forgets to pay important bills or fails to attend to his or her health care needs, you may feel compelled to step in and help. Unfortunately, not everyone understands when they need such help. Nevertheless, you may notice that without your assistance, your loved one may be struggling. In such cases, many find themselves investigating the benefits of seeking guardianship for their parents.

Because of privacy rules and other laws, you may not have the legal capacity to handle many of the issues your loved one is struggling with. Unless your parent has granted you power of attorney, his or her doctors will be unable to share critical medical information with you, and financial institutions will not permit you access to your loved one's accounts. By obtaining guardianship, you will have the legal authority to control the financial and medical decisions of your parent.

Your important duties

Obtaining guardianship is not an easy process, legally or emotionally, especially if your parent is unwilling to relinquish control. You must first prove to the court that your loved one is no longer competent to handle his or her finances or to make healthy and safe decisions without help. The court will determine if you are fit for the role of guardian and its many duties including:

  • Deciding whether your parent will remain at home or move to a nursing facility
  • Protecting your loved one's assets, investments and home
  • Paying your loved one's bills and managing his or her bank accounts
  • Consenting to medical treatments and controlling the release of medical records
  • Including your loved one as much as possible in any decisions that affect his or her well-being

During the period of your guardianship, you will keep thorough records of your actions, your expenditures and any decisions you make on your parent's behalf. You will report these to the court periodically. It will also be part of your role to make any end-of-life decisions for your loved one if he or she has not prepared for this.

These are challenging but necessary duties, and you may agree that having guardianship for your parent will bring you peace of mind. Having a New Hampshire attorney to guide you through the process may help you meet your goal of providing security for your parent, especially if you fear others may object to your efforts to seek guardianship.

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