You see your elderly parent declining in their physical and mental health and you are concerned about their ability to care for themselves or even make simple decisions.
You want to pursue guardianship of your parent, but are you allowed to do so?
Guardianship in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Probate and Family Court can appoint a guardian to an incapacitated person. The guardian can make routine health care decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person, with the incapacitated person’s involvement to the extent that is reasonable and possible.
Guardians are generally appointed when an elderly person does not have a durable power of attorney or health care proxy.
Guardianships are not the same as conservatorships, although both positions must be appointed by the court. Guardians deal with health care affairs. Conservators oversee the protected person’s financial estate and make daily care decisions.
However, just because your loved one is elderly does not mean you will automatically be appointed their guardian. They must be considered an incapacitated person and you must be eligible to be a guardian.
What is an incapacitated person?
A person is incapacitated if they are unable to evaluate information to make or communicate decisions for themselves for reasons other than advanced age.
However, guardians can be appointed to an elderly person who is suffering from a degenerative health condition and is unable to express consent to their various treatment options or express consent to being placed in a nursing home.
Can I be appointed guardian of my elderly parent?
If your elderly parent meets the definition of an incapacitated person, you may seek guardianship. However, to be appointed guardian of your parent, you must not be under any current investigations, you must have no pending charges for abusing your parent and you must not be under any current investigations for neglecting your parent.
Guardianship is a legal process
Guardianship is a legal process. Courts are not quick to take away an incapacitated person’s rights to make their own health care decisions without good reason.
Moreover, courts want to make sure the right person is appointed as guardian. This can be you as the adult child, but it could also be someone else.
If you want to pursue guardianship of your elderly parent in Massachusetts, it is important that you do your research and seek the help you need to learn if this is a good option for you and your parent.