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When is guardianship in order?


Question: How do I know when it is time to evaluate my father (who has Alzheimer's) to determine if guardianship warranted? My brother and I have full and durable Power of Attorney but father has become increasingly paranoid and distrustful regarding his finances. He cannot manage his finances but does not trust us (or anyone else) to do it for him. It has become very difficult to handle his affairs of late due to his direct interference and threats of interference. Conservatorship or guardianship may be the only way we can manage his finances with any kind of assurance that he won't make routine tasks difficult or impossible, but we do not want to take that step unless we are absolutely sure it is necessary. Any advice is appreciated.

Dr. Amy: This is an emotionally charged and difficult situation for you, your brother, and your father. As you know, Alzheimer’s changes the way the brain works. Your father may be capable of doing many things and yet be incapable of taking care of his finances. If he is really not capable, there is a danger that he could fall prey to unethical people and fraud schemes.

If something is changing in your father's level of function, it's a good idea to make an appointment with his doctor to discuss this.

If you have a Durable Power of Attorney, it should state the conditions that must be satisfied in order for the Power of Attorney to come into effect. I encourage you to consult the lawyer who drew up the document to discuss the best options for you and your father. He can best advise you about guardianship, the rules of which vary from state to state.

In the meantime, are there steps you can take to automate more of your father’s financial transactions? If your father is willing, it might help if you signed him up for automatic bill payment. That way, the newspaper, insurance, bank charges, credit card payments, and utilities could all be deducted from his bank account monthly without any fuss. Good luck!

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