Taking Guardianship When Seniors Can’t Manage Their Own Finances

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Elderly Man With Cane
feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - If you think an elderly parent can’t make good decisions, what can you do about it?

Boy that Donald Sterling is despicable. But is he incapable of making decisions? In your family, you may not be fighting for control of your two billion dollars in assets but when do you have the right to take control over a loved one’s (or in Sterling’s case, a hated one’s) financial and other decision-making?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell when a person goes from crotchety to incompetent, but if you believe that someone has crossed that line, you can file a petition to become his guardian. State laws regarding guardians differ, but in general, if you feel a person can no longer make good decisions, you would file a document with the court to request the appointment of a guardian.

The court will generally appoint an attorney to represent the proposed ward or investigate the facts and advise the court. The court can choose to appoint a guardian to make all or limited decisions about the person’s finances and/or healthcare.

There are community legal services available that can help you get the process started, so contact the court of the non-basketball variety for a referral.

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