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Actions you can take now if parent guardianship is anticipated

Let's presume you are a millennial only child and your parents are in their 60s. Maybe you are not feeling concerned about their ability to take care of themselves right now, but you recognize that the day is bound to come when they won't have the capacity to make decisions. Someone, most likely you, will have to take over that function. What should you do?

New York has provisions of law that allow for the setting up of guardianships for the protection of loved ones. However, the statutes set certain requirements before courts can give approval. The process can be complicated and time consuming and sometimes the need for action arises suddenly. If you are that millennial or you are the 60-something parents of such a person, it's possible start thinking now about what might be inevitable and anticipate how to get into guardian mode.

In the view of many legal observers, the first step is to acknowledge guardianship will be required. The next step is to identify what documentation you will need to fulfill the role when the time comes to take it on. Recognizing that being guardian or conservator means you are responsible for the person's safety and management of assets, here types of documents to focus on.

  • Materials related to health care: These would include medical records of past treatments, invoices for those treatments and health insurance information.
  • Asset statements: Paperwork related to any and all account balances, usernames and passwords for accessing any bank or investment accounts. Include any personal checkbooks here.
  • Any legal documents: These include wills, trusts and any other documentation related to inherited assets. If the prospective ward is party to any existing legal actions, be sure to gather up documents pertinent to them.

Obviously, guardianship is a task that is heavy on paperwork and one that can quickly become overwhelming if undertaken unexpectedly and alone. Consulting an experienced attorney is one way to make your life and the prospective ward's life easier.

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