As we age, so do our parents. While advances in medicine and an overall better quality of life in the United States have led to an increased life expectancy, none of these advances have figured out how to halt the aging process nor have they provided a cure for age-related dementia diseases such as Alzheimer’s. As a result, you may one day be in a position where you must decide if a parent needs a guardian. This is never an easy position to be in; however, if you are concerned enough to be contemplating whether or not your parent needs a guardian that there is likely a good reason.
Ultimately, a court will make the decision whether your parent needs a Guardian; however, in order for a court to make that decision you must first petition for guardianship. In Illinois you may petition to become a Guardian of the person, a Guardian of the estate, or Guardian of both, known as “plenary guardianship”. Making the decision to petition to be a parent’s guardian is never an easy decision. Only you can make the decision to petition; however, there are some factors that you may wish to take into consideration when making your decision, including:
- Medical diagnoses. If your parent has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, or another age related dementia disease, there is a strong likelihood that your parent will need a guardian, if not now that at some point in the future.
- Living situation. If your parents live alone, the risk of physical injury increases with each passing year. If your parent is resistant to these suggestions that he or she used to an assisted living facility, you may need to be appointed guardian to make that decision for your parent.
- Finances. Sadly, the elderly fall prey to financial victimization at a shocking rate. If you are concerned that someone may have access to your parents finances or that someone may take advantage of your parent, guardianship over the estate may be the best way to prevent this from occurring.
Like most adult children in your situation you may be concerned that by petitioning for guardianship you are taking away your parents dignity and independence. Remember, however, that failing to act could result in physical injury or victimization to your parents which are far worse injuries.
If you are considering filing a petition for guardianship over your parent consult with your estate planning attorney to determine what the best way to proceed is and what other legal options you may have.
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