If you notice certain changes in an aging family member, it might be time to seek outside help. When a loved one can no longer make intelligent decisions about his or her healthcare, housing, finances or legal matters an emergency guardianship or conservatorship may be the solution.
Emergency guardianships and conservatorships are legal mechanisms created under the direction of the court to assist a person who has become incapacitated or debilitated.
The roles of guardian and conservator in Arizona are similar but distinct.
- Guardianships concern specifically healthcare, living arrangements and other personal issues.
- Conservatorships deal with financial decisions.
A guardianship or conservatorship may be necessary if your loved one has a debilitating condition such as dementia and someone needs to step in immediately to take care of things. For example, if your loved one is not paying bills, or is wasting money, a conservator might be appointed to assume these financial decisions and responsibilities.
On the other hand, a guardian might be appointed if your loved one is continuing to drive even though it’s dangerous. Similarly, if your loved one is no longer safe at home but refuses to move, you may need to be appointed as guardian to make this decision concerning where your loved one should live.
Sometimes the court needs to get involved even when there is a healthcare power of attorney or general power of attorney. For example, I represented a family of three brothers whose mother was in hospice. One of the brothers was granted power of attorney for health care, and his mother’s living will provided him with the authority to act for her. But without communicating to his brothers, this son put the mother in a hospice where food and fluids were withheld, contrary to the mother’s wishes. (Can you imagine? This older lady was able to communicate that she wanted to eat and drink but the son instructed the hospice to withhold all food and fluids.)
The two brothers learned of their mother’s situation and came to her aid. Within 72 hours of contacting me, we were able to work with the probate court and appoint one brother as temporary guardian. He restored care to the mother, taking her out of an untenable situation and ultimately saving her life.
I’ve also helped clients in cases where an emergency conservatorship was necessary to protect the financial health of a loved one when someone was misusing or stealing money.
Every situation is different.
Searching for solutions can be incredibly frustrating and difficult.
But you don’t have to do it alone. Working with an experienced attorney, you’ll take comfort from knowing there is a solution to your situation.
Since 1998 I’ve been helping clients resolve both simple and complex issues and have helped them find resolution and peace of mind. We’d love to help you, too.