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Are there any alternatives to guardianship?

Maybe mom has been getting a little forgetful and has stopped paying the bills even though there's money in the account. Or, dad has developed the early signs of dementia and you're concerned that his condition is worsening. Your intentions are good and you mean the best by suggesting that it's time to take guardianship of your elderly parents.

Your parents aren't so enthusiastic about the idea. In fact, they are flat-out against it. Despite all the issues they may have, they are certainly clear-headed enough to understand that having a legal guardian means that they lose autonomy over their own lives.

Are there any other options? Is there a way you can protect your parents and let them still retain some control over their own lives?

There might be. Here are some possible options:

  • You could become their representative payee for Social Security. If your parents have few resources and only receive retirement benefits, becoming their payee can give you control over their finances so that you can ensure the bills are paid and spare money is saved.
  • You can ask for their financial and medical powers of attorney. This will give you the right to handle their financial affairs and make medical decisions on their behalf, if they're agreeable to the idea.
  • A living trust might work. Trusts are often used to protect people of means from falling prey to grifters and shady influencers who might otherwise take advantage of them.

These may not be your only options. If you're an adult child of parents who have developed some difficulties managing their own affairs, talk to an experienced attorney about your options before you decide what step to take next.

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