As our parents age, it can be incredibly hard to watch them struggle to complete daily activities they once could accomplish without any difficulty.
If your mom or dad was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you may want to consider setting up a guardianship to protect their long-term wishes and needs.
However, disputes involving such guardianships are not uncommon. Speaking with your siblings prior to instigating the procedure can help eliminate conflicts.
What is guardianship?
When an aging adult’s decision making is becoming impaired (the ward), a court may name an individual to make decisions on their behalf (the guardian). The court will only use guardianship if other, less restrictive methods are usable. These may include durable powers of attorney or a health care surrogate.
Guardianship agreements can be limited in scope or they can be plenary, or unlimited in scope. Depending on the specifics of the guardian agreement, the guardian may handle the ward’s investments, transactions and other financial decisions.
Resolving possible contested guardianship disputes
If you have siblings, ideally you all will be in alignment regarding the best way to protect your parent. But serious arguments can arise; you and your siblings may disagree on aspects of the guardianship.
First, it is important that you speak with them in-depth prior to initiating the guardianship to resolve potential issues early on. If serious conflicts arise, a good option for resolving such conflicts is through mediation.
Licensed mediators receive training to resolve these and other highly contentious disputes among family members. This method allows everyone to voice their concerns and work together in a collaborative environment to find an effective solution that works for you, your siblings and, most importantly, your parent.
In some cases, a judge may need to get involved. An experienced guardianship attorney who understands Florida’s litigation process can provide advocacy if going to court is a possibility.