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What does it mean to obtain legal guardianship of a parent?

Many middle-age New York City residents must deal with the logistical challenges and emotional stress that comes with figuring out how to care for elderly parents. In addition to possible health problems and physical ailments, as they age, many people grow increasingly forgetful and confused. In cases where a parent's declining cognitive functioning endangers his or her safety, health and financial wellbeing; it's important to explore options with regard to legal guardianship.

According to the Alzheimer's association, during 2015 roughly 5.3 million Americans were living with the disease. When dementia or Alzheimer's progresses to the point where it's no longer safe for a loved one to live alone and he or she is not able to manage household finances, children are advised to discuss their options with an attorney.

To obtain legal guardianship of a parent, the courts must determine that a parent is incapacitated. In the event the court grants guardianship, the appointed party is provided with the legal power to make decisions on behalf of and for the benefit of the incapacitated party related to the following matters:

• Living arrangements
• Finances
• Property
• Daily maintenance and care needs
• Medical and dental needs

Issues surrounding an aging parent's or loved one's diminished mental capacity are often highly emotional for all family members and, at times, can lead to disagreements within a family about how to best provide and care for a loved one. For these reasons, families who are dealing with these types of challenges are advised to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney who handles estate planning matters.

An attorney can answer questions, provide important information and guidance about guardianship and assist in mitigating and resolving disputes that may arise due to a guardianship.

Source: Parent Giving, "Guardianship Versus Conservatorship - What Is the Difference?," Jan. 21, 2016

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