At some point in your life, you may notice a role-reversal occurring with you and a parent. Where your parent once cared for you and ensured your safety and well-being, you now find yourself doing those things for your parent. You may even reach the point where you are concerned that your parent is no longer capable of safely caring for himself/herself. It may be time to consider becoming your parent’s Guardian – but how do you know for sure that guardianship is the answer? A Fargo elder law attorney at German Law Group helps you evaluate your parent’s need for a Guardian.
Signs that Your Parent May Need a Guardian
There is no easy way to determine when guardianship is necessary. As an adult child, it can be extremely difficult to acknowledge that a parent is no longer capable of making decisions and/or managing finances. The reality is though that the longer a parent lives, the stronger the likelihood that he/she will succumb to the physical and/or mental deterioration that accompanies the natural aging process. When you add to that the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s, or another age-related form of dementia, the need for someone to step in to prevent injury or harm increases dramatically. Ultimately, only you can decide when it is time to petition to become your parent’s Guardian; however, some common signs that should cause you to consider the need to step in and evaluate the need for a Guardian include:
- Frequent, unexplained injuries
- Injuries that are increasing in severity
- Unpaid bills when the funds are available to pay the bills
- Money missing from accounts without an explanation
- Items missing from the home
- Missed doctor appointments without explanation
- Medication not being taken as prescribed
- Memory loss that exceeds normal aging
- Deteriorating hygiene
- Unexplained weight loss
- Basic household chores being neglected
- Mood swings
- Periods of confusion
Guardianship in North Dakota
Guardianship laws, as well as the process required to become a Guardian, are both governed by state law. In the State of North Dakota, there are three primary types of guardianship:
- General Guardian — is responsible for decisions in ALL aspects of the ward’s life. The guardian assures that the ward has a place to live, food to eat, proper clothing, and other necessities, as well as medical treatment, schooling, vocational opportunities, and other needed services.
- Limited Guardian — has the authority to make decisions ONLY in specific areas of the ward’s life, such as financial or residential.
- Emergency or Temporary Guardian — appointed in situations where immediate action is required to prevent harm to the ward. An emergency guardianship CANNOT be in effect longer than 90 days and has ONLY the authority identified by the court at the time of the appointment.
Note that in North Dakota, a person who is appointed to manage the estate and finances of another person is known as a Conservator.
How Do I Become My Parent’s Guardian?
Because guardianship is the most restrictive option, you must convince a judge that a Guardian is, indeed, necessary to protect your parent. The process begins with the filing of a petition with the appropriate court. Both your parent and close family members must be notified of your request for guardianship. A hearing will be scheduled at which time you must present sufficient evidence and/or testimony to convince the court that guardianship is warranted. If the judge agrees that guardianship is necessary, the Court will then consider your request to be the Guardian. If the court grants your petition, the court will explain the bounds of your authority over your parent and/or your parent’s estate based on what the court determines is necessary to protect your parent and/or his/her assets.
Contact a Elder Law Attorney
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about becoming your parent’s Guardian, contact a elder law attorney at German Law Group by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.