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You cannot act on behalf of your parent without legal authority

Growing up, you may have thought your parents were invincible beings. They were always there when you needed them and seemed to always have the ability to handle any difficulties, whether yours or their own. Of course, as you reached adulthood and your parents got older, you may have come to realize that they are more vulnerable than you once believed.

The realization may have hit hard when one of your parents passed away. While you are still grateful to have one living parent, you may have growing concerns about his or her wellness. Signs of dementia or other concerns may be creeping in, and you may wonder whether you may need to take drastic actions to ensure his or her well-being.

Legal steps

It may help you feel more at ease to know that you can take legal steps to take over your parent's affairs in the event that the need arises. In particular, a conservatorship or guardianship may prove necessary so that you have the authority to make important financial decisions and other choices for your parent. Taking such action may feel like you have forced your loved one into an undesired position, but it may prove necessary to ensure that he or she does not carry out harmful actions.

When to take action

In a best-case scenario, your parent created estate planning documents, like a power of attorney, that granted you the ability to make important financial decisions when he or she no longer had the ability to do so. However, some parents may not take this action in time, or they may simply refuse, which could be a sign that it is time for you to act. The following examples may help you determine whether you may need to seek conservatorship or guardianship over your parent:

  • Your parent refuses to create any estate planning documents.
  • You need to make important health care-related decisions for your parent.
  • Your parent needs nursing home care but refuses to go.
  • Your parent cannot make sound decisions in certain areas of his or her life.
  • You need to sell your parent's home or other property.

Even if your parent is in a vulnerable state, you often cannot act on his or her behalf unless given legal authority. Therefore, it may be in your best interest and your parent's best interest to find out more information on guardianships and conservatorships.

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