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Understanding the different types of guardianship

Adults often start to lose their physical and mental abilities as they age. When this happens, it can be a cause for concern for their close friends and family. In these instances, a loved one, or the older adult may want to establish a legal guardian.

Because older adults’ circumstances can often vary, they and their preferred caretaker may wonder what type of legal guardianship works best for them.

Examining available options

There are two common types; the first is a limited guardianship. This type is when the caretaker can only look after certain things the older adult can no longer handle. Those can include their assets, finances or home.

The other is called unlimited guardianship. With this type, the caretaker often has complete legal authority over their elderly loved one – much like a parent has full authority over an underage child. These guardians can influence many things, including whether or not they sell their home and what type of medical care they need.

Questions to ask

When deciding, these are some things for the preferred guardian to consider:

  • Are they still capable of making fundamental decisions like what to wear and what to eat?
  • Are they still paying their bills on time or making purchases they don’t remember?
  • Do they complain about aches, pains or other concerning symptoms, but don’t call the doctor?
  • Do they have difficulties maintaining their home?
  • Does their physical condition make it difficult to get to and from places on their own?
  • Do they often seem confused or disoriented?

The process can be complicated

Establishing a legal caretaker for an older adult can be complicated, but often necessary. The elderly loved one and their preferred guardian can seek legal counsel to find an option that works best for them. Afterward, they can get their request approved by a judge.