In the event a family member is not available, or there is an ongoing dispute between family members regarding a loved one's care, judges in Miami-Dade may appoint an outside party to serve as a person's guardian. While in some cases this can ensure an elderly or mentally ill person is receiving proper care, in some unfortunate situations, a court appointed guardian might take advantage of the very person they have a legal responsibility to look out for.
The story of a woman in Pennsylvania highlights the dangers of not adequately monitoring a court ordered guardianship. According to reports, the woman claims her mother's court appointed guardian not only stopped her from visiting her elderly mother, who suffers from dementia, she also moved her from the personal care home where she had been living to a nursing home 100 miles away.
The woman reportedly claims that her mother's guardian is taking unfair advantage of the situation and has spent a significant portion of her assets. The guardianship resulted from a dispute between her and her brother over her mother's care. It was not reported whether or not the woman was pursuing having the guardianship terminated, or transferred to her. She is reportedly, however, currently working on having her mother moved closer.
Some of these issues may be avoided through careful estate planning that includes a living will or other expressed desire for who should take over guardianship in the event you can no longer take care of yourself. This is where an attorney can be of assistance. A lawyer can explain your options and help you to develop a clear plan for how you would like to be cared for in case of incapacity due to disability or mental illness.
Source: Observer-Reporter, As Pa. ages, state examines guardianship and abuse, Halle Stockton, Sep. 14, 2013