You may have noticed your neighbor, Clarence, is starting to have trouble taking care of himself. Sometimes he asks you for help, but other times you notice things like his trash piling up by the back door. Or maybe you see that his front door has been left open late at night. It may be time to consider getting a guardian for Clarence. You’d like to help, but you just don’t know what to expect if you serve as an elderly person’s guardian.
Becoming A Guardian
First, thank you for helping. Caring for senior citizens is a way to honor them.
To become a guardian, you’ll need to file documents with the clerk of the Superior Court in the protected person’s county of residence. The court will hold a hearing to see if the person (the ward) actually needs a guardian. Other people interested in the ward’s welfare will be notified of the hearing and given a chance to attend.
You’ll talk to the ward’s attorney, if they have one. If not, an attorney will be appointed to represent the ward.
After an investigation and an examination by a health care professional, the court will decide whether a guardianship is needed. Potential guardians will likely be investigated to avoid putting the ward in danger. The court will consider the ward’s condition and appoint a guardian. If all goes well, you will be the guardian.
Caring For An Elderly Person
As guardian of a person, you would have the following responsibilities:
- Choose where the ward lives.
- Care for and maintain the ward. This includes watching for any signs of elder abuse. Also, you will safeguard the ward’s property and possessions.
- Consent to medical care or treatment, service, or counsel from other professionals as needed.
- Provide an accounting to a conservator, if one has been appointed for the ward.
- Handle some financial affairs if a conservator has not been appointed.
- Encourage self-reliance and independence where appropriate.
- Consider the ward’s values and wishes when making decisions. You have a duty to put the ward’s interests first.
- File an annual report with the court or whenever the court requests one.
Also, public benefits may pay for some of the protected person’s needs. This includes Medicaid, Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS), and Social Security. You’ll be the person helping your ward apply for those benefits.
You Are Not Alone
Serving as guardian can be time consuming, frustrating – and extremely rewarding. Help is available if you need to become the guardian of an elderly person.
At Keystone Law Firm, we provide sympathetic advice to help our clients through life’s toughest situations. Call us at (480) 418-8448 or check out some of our free seminars. We offer services for clients throughout Arizona, including Chandler, Gilbert, Sun Lakes, Tempe, Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Apache Junction.