Guardianship is a powerful legal relationship. In terms of elder law, you would probably establish a guardianship to make decisions for parents or grandparents who can no longer manage their own affairs.
There are a number of questions that you might ask yourself — and that the court will probably ask you, for that matter — before you pursue this option. Even if your challenges seem immense, there could be alternatives.
Would something else work?
One of the central elements to most guardianship cases is determining whether this change in status is the only option. Others might include:
- Special needs trusts
- Representatives for managing government benefits
- Powers of attorney
The court would want you to consider these first because they are less restrictive on the liberties of the person you are taking care of. Having one or more of these already in place, with insufficient results, might be a good indicator that you need a guardianship.
Would there be opposition?
You might also want to consider the human factor. Various people, primarily family members, might object to your intent to become a guardian. They could have the right to take action that delays or disrupts your attempts. In short, serious opposition would probably complicate your case.
Do you want to be guardian?
Guardianship might be a strong tool, but is it the one you want to use? Your commitment comes with certain privileges, such as the ability to effectively care and represent your loved one, but it also includes a wide array of responsibilities. Breaching or neglecting these duties could result in serious consequences.
The choice is yours whether to pursue establishing a guardianship. However, this is a major decision. Should you succeed, you could change more than your legal relationship with your loved one — you could change your future for years to come.