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Should I have a guardian appointed for my elderly relative?

When a parent or grandparent is showing signs of not being able to exercise self-care any longer, you might have to make plans for someone else to look after your elderly relative. Some Pennsylvania residents ask a court to appoint a conservator, also known as a guardian, to take care of their loved one. As FindLaw explains, this is not a simple process and may require careful consideration of alternatives before proceeding.

Ideally, a guardian provides an elderly person with needed care. This includes making important decisions regarding the senior's living arrangements, such as where the senior should live and who can be a caretaker for the senior. In many cases, the guardian will take over the finances of the senior. These actions are meant to protect the senior's assets and preserve the senior's health as much as possible.

However, a senior conservatorship is not simple to establish. Courts are not quick to appoint a guardian of an elderly person since it means removing some of the senior's rights and transferring them to the guardian. Family members looking to set up a guardianship will have to fill out a lot of paperwork and go through possibly multiple court hearings to get the conservatorship established.

There is also the possibility that your senior relative will not agree to the conservatorship. Challenges to the conservatorship, either from your loved one or a family member who does not agree with the proposed guardianship, can drag out the process in court. A prolonged court battle can add more expenses on top of a process that might be costly to begin with.

There are some alternatives to a conservatorship that may be more attractive. Your senior relative, if competent enough, can set up a living trust, which can appoint a trustee to handle the senior's finances under the right circumstances. Your elderly loved one can also establish a person with a power of attorney, authorizing that person to make medical and financial choices on your relative's behalf.

Even with some alternatives available to appointing a guardian, circumstances may make a conservatorship the only viable option for some people. Because appointing a senior guardian is complicated, do not read the information in this article as a substitute for the advice of a professional family law attorney.

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