Watching your parent age and lose some of his or her cognitive or physical abilities is difficult. It may become especially so if you have concerns about your parent possibly becoming a danger to his or herself as mental or physical health declines. In some instances, you may need to step in and establish a guardianship to help protect your mother or father and his or her health or finances. 

What exactly is a guardianship, and what situations may warrant you appointing a guardian over your parent? 

Defining “guardianship” 

In simple terms, a guardianship is a legal responsibility you or someone else may choose to establish over a parent once that parent is no longer capable of making certain decisions. A guardian typically has the legal authority to make certain financial or medical decisions with regard to the person he or she has the guardianship over. 

When to consider a guardianship 

Whether you must establish a guardianship in certain circumstances may depend on how your parent crafted his or her estate plan in the first place. If he or she signed powers of attorney, you may only need guardianships in very specific situations. 

You may, for example, need a guardianship if you know it is time for your parent to move into a nursing home, but your mom or dad refuses to go. Similarly, if your parent needs specific medical treatments he or she refuses, or is unable to, consent to, you may need to appoint a guardian to get him or her the necessary care. 

You may also want to name a guardian over a parent if you become fearful that his or her mental capacity may lead to financial losses. If you get the feeling your parent is freely signing any documents placed in front of him or her, it may be time to think about appointing a guardian.