As we age, the relationship with our parents often flips as the child becomes the caretaker. That means making sure mom and dad take their medications and get to their medical appointments.

It can even mean helping them pay bills on time and making sure they are put in the mail. However, when parents forget to do important tasks or even hide things from you, it may be time to consider a guardianship to protect them.

Estate planning documents may not be enough

The first step is creating an estate plan where mom and dad sign documents for power of attorney and health care proxy. Here are five circumstances where petitioning for guardianship may be necessary:

  • Refusing to sign a power of attorney: It’s not uncommon for elderly parents, especially those diagnosed with dementia, to refuse to sign estate planning documents.
  • Selling property or investments: Some instances require a guardianship to sell a parent’s property even when a signed power of attorney is in effect.
  • Nursing home disagreements: Older parents who need specialized care may refuse to go to a nursing home when they can no longer live independently, and no other options exist.
  • Advanced medical care intervention: In some cases, even with a valid health care proxy, a guardianship may be necessary to protect a parent’s health, such as refusing to take antipsychotic medications.
  • Limited guardianships: If a parent struggles with decision-making in only one or two areas, a limited form of guardianship may be sufficient instead of taking complete control of their lives.

Acting in a parent’s best interests

Filing for guardianship can be emotionally challenging, as well as costly but is necessary in some cases. An experienced attorney can help you put an estate plan in place to help you avoid this step. Make sure the plan is up to date and consider other actions now, such as transferring assets to a revocable trust while mom and dad are still healthy.