It’s rough to watch your parents decline with age, and rougher still to realize that your roles have gradually become reversed. Instead of them guiding and protecting you, you now have to guide and protect them.
This is particularly true when your parent has developed some form of dementia. As the disease progresses, they may no longer be able to make reasoned decisions for themselves and will become increasingly vulnerable to fraud.
At some point, it may be necessary to consider adult guardianship proceedings.
How does guardianship for an adult work?
In North Carolina, adult guardianship can be put in place only once an adult has been judged incompetent in a court of law. Anyone may file a petition with the court alleging that an adult should be declared incompetent.
Once that’s done, a hearing will be scheduled and both the petitioner and the respondent (the adult in question) can present evidence that supports their position. In addition, the court may also order various psychological, sociological and physical evaluations to get better insight into the respondent’s situation.
If your parent is judged to be incompetent, the court can put you in charge of their affairs in one of three ways. You can be granted:
- Guardianship of the person: This gives you the authority to decide where they will live and authorize medical treatments.
- Guardianship of the estate: This gives you the right to manage their financial affairs, including the disposition of real property.
- General guardianship: If your parent needs both a guardian of the person and the estate, then this gives you the power to handle both.
Adult guardianship, when needed, is a loving act that makes sure that your elderly parent won’t suffer unnecessarily because of the ravages of dementia. It will allow you to take responsibility for their care, whatever may come. If you’re concerned about your elderly parent’s capacity to manage their own affairs because of dementia, it may be time to learn more.