As our parents get older, there comes a time when you notice that their ability to focus has decreased or that they’re unable to make informed and meaningful decisions. Whether this is due to serious health issues or the passing of time, seeking legal guardianship may be necessary to ensure the protection of the person you care for and their quality of life.
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Without proper safeguarding, your parents could be susceptible to theft and robberies or abuse by strangers, even friends. Having the appropriate legal measures in place allows you to act on their behalf in the best interests of a vulnerable parent. Here is what you need to know about legal guardianship of your elderly parents and how to get it:
What is legal guardianship?
Guardianship is the legal process of establishing who will step in to care for vulnerable individuals and is an option for older adults when they have not appointed power of attorney and are incapacitated due to age, disability, or illness. This legally allows you to assume all responsibilities of care, including healthcare, welfare, and finances.
Financial powers can include the ability to handle your parent’s property, and bank accounts, and to claim any benefits on their behalf. Welfare powers involve deciding where they should live, whether that is at home or a care facility.
What are the risks for vulnerable parents?
It can be difficult for older adults to admit that they need some help, but sometimes they never do, so you need to step in before the worst happens. Advanced age and developing chronic or cognitive illnesses mean that older adults are more likely to be affected by crime, injury, and other health complications.
The vulnerable elderly is far more susceptible to crimes such as robberies and abuse from strangers, even friends. Studies show that those over 70 have lost about £977 million in total due to theft and fraud between April 2019 and 2022, and that’s just those who reported crimes to the police. Getting out ahead of this is important to safeguarding your loved one’s assets and well-being.
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What are the legal procedures for establishing guardianship?
There are certain requirements that you need to meet to become a legal guardian including being over the age of 18 and having no criminal background or conflicts of interest. Once these are met, you need to contact a solicitor about seeking guardianship who will then gather records and go to Court on your behalf to present your case as to why you should be a guardian.
Two medical records from doctors confirming the incapacity of your parents will need to be presented, as well as a report from a Mental Health Officer at the local authority supporting your suitability for guardianship. The court will then determine whether the powers should be granted and issue a guardianship order if your application is successful.