It can be a very painful decision to petition a court for guardianship over a loved one. This is especially difficult if you are trying to get the authority to make difficult health decisions or end-of-life choices for a beloved parent or spouse. Much of this pain can be avoided through a well thought out estate plan, complete with proper powers of attorney and advanced directives. However, when these are not enough or when they were not put in place in time, a formal guardianship might be necessary. At the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, we want you to be aware of these five signs that you need to get a guardianship in place for a loved one.
#1 – Your Loved One Is Showing Signs of Cognitive Decline
Dementia is a terrible disease that plagues nearly 50 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. It can appear subtle, with just minor and infrequent lapses of memory. Family members may become avoidant and may suffer from denial. If you see signs of the early onset of dementia, do not delay. Get your loved one to speak with a Greenville family law attorney fast. Time is ticking, and there may still be things you can do to avoid guardianship. But if all cognitive function is gone, a guardianship may be the only choice.
#2 – Your Loved One Won’t Accept Help
The most dangerous time for a senior with cognitive decline is that point just after they are too far into mental incapacity to make safe choices for themselves, but just competent enough to fool outside observers. In this gray area, unscrupulous and predatory people may seek to exploit a vulnerable individual. If the senior is unable to properly advocate or doesn’t believe there is a problem, it can be very hard to help.
#3 – You Notice Unusual Spending Habits
There’s nothing wrong with senior spending money, but if you begin to notice bizarre purchases or money being sent to seemingly random places, it could be a red flag that there are cognitive issues to be addressed.
#4 – Doctors Are Expressing Concern
Perhaps the biggest warning sign would be if doctors begin communicating with you, as the concerned spouse or adult child of someone with deteriorating mental competence. If a physician or other healthcare provider brings concerns to your attention, you should contact a guardianship and elder law attorney right away to find out your options.
#5 – Your Loved One Begins Voiding Previously Drafted Estate Planning Documents
A person with full legal capacity has every right to change their mind about things like wills and powers of attorney, but if a senior with known dementia or other cognitive delays begin making rapid and sweeping changes to things like a will or powers of attorney that were designed to protect them, you absolutely should consult with a Greenville Family Law attorney right away This could signal a number of concerns, including the possibility that someone is convincing them to make the changes.
At the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, we make your family our priority. If you suspect that you may need to get guardianship in place for an aging or cognitively disabled adult, call us today to meet and discuss how we might be able to help.
Angela Elliot Frazier is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years now. Angela Frazier believes in helping you through one of the most stressful times of your life. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.