Understanding Guardianship


Elder Guardianship is legal. However, many nursing homes and assisted living facilities are abusing it. My Elder wants you to know your rights and how you can protect your rights.


One of the most complex and mind boggling subjects in the elder care system in the United states is the subject of guardianship.  For me it brings about all sort of complicated feelings and frustrations because I see the abuses and know the intricacies of what can and will go wrong.  I see how abusive, dangerous and manipulative the wrong guardian can be to an elder. I am here to help elders and their families. That is my life’s work. So when I see people getting hurt, used and manipulated and the court system seems to be in on it that makes me angry.  Having said that, I feel that it is high time someone empowers the elderly, and to me the best way to empower people is to educate them. So I am going to take some time to explain to you exactly what guardianship is and how to best avoid any issues that relate to it.

Guardianship is when a court appoints a guardian to take care of someone who is mentally or physically incapacitated. In general, the guardian is appointed to handle the person’s affairs whether monetary, logistical, or healthcare. The patient may not be mentally or physically capable of paying bills, coordinating care or anything else so the guardian is put in place to help handle these functions.  

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Sometimes it can be a relative, sometimes the initial evaluators hired by the court system become the guardian while other times it can be social workers or geriatric care managers.  In some of these cases the person appointed can have clear conflicts of interest. Precedents has Previous cases have shown that the courts may not recognize that there is a conflict of interest or chooses to look the other way when faced with these contradictions.

One could speculate about the reasons for this but for the sake of empowering you and not dwelling on the negative, here are a few tips to make sure that you don’t end up being taken advantage of.

Tip #1

Make sure that you have signed a power of attorney and a health care proxy. This is something that should be done long before there is an issue. That way there is a lessor less likelihood that someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart can get appointed as your guardian.

Tip #2

Make your wishes known about how you would like your affairs handled at a time when there is no question about your mental or physical health and make sure that all of this information is communicated legally.

Tip #3

Educate yourself as to what is entailed in a guardianship and learn how to protect yourself  before guardianship happens.

Tip #4

Seek legal advice on how to avoid and fight guardianship.

My Elder provides elder advocacy services to families. Talk to us about long-term planning, finding the right home for your loved ones, preventing crisis and abuse, and ensuring they receive the best care possible.