Whether you have a child with special needs who recently turned 18, a sibling who suffered a closed head injury in a car crash who can no longer take care of themselves or aging parents struggling with dementia, it is hard to see a loved one unable to provide for their own basic needs.
You may witness other people trying to take advantage of vulnerable family members or see the legal and financial hardship that they must endure when they make financial mistakes, like failing to pay their utilities or rent on time.
In circumstances where it has become clear that your loved one cannot fulfill the obligations of independent living, you may need to go to the New Hampshire probate courts and request a guardianship. What does this process typically involve?
You need recent evidence of your loved one’s struggle with independent living
New Hampshire has relatively strict requirements regarding evidence of diminished capacity for incompetence. You need to present verifiable evidence or testimony regarding your loved one’s behavior that has recently given you cause for concern about their ability to live independently and manage their own affairs.
Typically, the New Hampshire courts expect you to have evidence gathered within six months of the date when you file a request for a guardianship hearing. In fact, at least one incident that leads you to think that a guardianship is necessary will have to have had occurred within 20 days of the time that you file paperwork with the courts.
You may need to reach out to family members or professionals
Sometimes, there is an obvious paper trail that validates your concerns. Records of unpaid rent and the litigation that follows, documents showing utilities cut off due to non-payment or records of fire department deployment because your loved one can no longer safely cook are all examples of official records that can help corroborate your guardianship request.
If there aren’t outside records, you may need to ask for testimony from other family members, caregivers, medical professionals and even neighbors who have witnessed your loved one’s struggles or decline. Once you successfully convinced the courts of the need for guardianship, you can then, theoretically, assume the role of guardian and help assist your loved one in managing their legal and financial affairs.
Especially in circumstances where your loved one or other family members disagree with your decision to seek guardianship, getting the help of an experienced New Hampshire attorney can improve your chances of success in protecting your loved one.