Most adults in Minnesota have the right to make their own financial and legal decisions. However, when adults reach a point where they start experiencing cognitive decline due to age or they suffer an injury that affects their testamentary capacity, like a traumatic brain injury, they may need support and protection from their family members.
Most people focus on conservatorships, which give a responsible adult the ability to make financial decisions on behalf of somebody who is incapacitated. However, a guardianship can be equally important because it can help protect someone from making bad medical decisions, which can be even more devastating than financial mistakes.
Is your loved one failing to act in their own best interests?
You can’t go to the courts and demand a guardianship over a parent because you don’t see eye-to-eye about life support. If your loved one creates an advance medical directive that includes a do-not-resuscitate order or instructs medical professionals not to keep them on life support, you may disagree with their decision. Still, unless the courts agree that they can’t make sound decisions on their own, you probably can’t demand the authority to make future medical decisions on behalf of your parents.
However, if it is clear that your loved one has started experiencing cognitive decline or if they no longer understand their medical needs and the treatment necessary for their own well-being, you may have no choice but to intervene and asked to make decisions on their behalf. Just like a child might refuse an immunization that could later save their life from a preventable illness, so too could older adults struggling with dementia make medical decisions that don’t uphold their own best interests.
Seeking a guardianship may be the only way for you to protect a loved one who doesn’t properly manage their own health care needs any longer. It’s wise to learn more about how to do this.