It can be hard for older adults to let their children know they need support and even harder for them to give up their legal and medical autonomy. Guardianship is an important protection for aging adults struggling to handle their finances independently, but it can be a hard topic to address.
A guardian will have access to and authority over financial accounts, allowing them to make sure that someone pays all of their bills on time and properly budget what resources they have. They may also make medical decisions for someone who cannot.
You may understand how stepping up as a guardian could help your parents, but they may resist or resent the idea. The three benefits below could help you convince your parents that a guardianship is in their best interests.
1) Not seeking one could hurt your case later
It can be hard for those experiencing a decline associated with advanced age and their family members to spot the signs of decline and take action in a timely manner. Denial is a powerful emotion that might prevent you or them from recognizing their limitations right away.
If someone else recognizes that your parents are in need of support and that you have not taken action, they might seek a guardianship and specifically mention your inaction as justification for naming them and not you as the guardian.
2) A guardian limits the risk of financial abuse
There are those who would seek to profit off of someone else’s difficulties as they get older. Members of your family and caregiver staff at medical facilities might try to manipulate or trick your loved one into giving them money or other resources.
Financial abuse of older adults sometimes involves theft but frequently involves manipulation, coercion and threats. When older adults don’t have financial authority of their own, their caregivers are less likely to try to abuse their position of authority.
3) There won’t be any risk of major financial oversights
Mistakes and money management can occur easily as people get older, but banks and businesses are no more forgiving of the financial oversights made by retired adults than they are of working-age adults.
Having someone manage their financial and household obligations will ensure that your parents never have to worry about foreclosure, non-payment of their taxes or other financial mistakes that could affect their security. Serving as a guardian could help keep your parents independent for longer, as they may be able to maintain a life more like the one they have long enjoyed.
Talking to your parents about a guardianship and taking steps even if they aren’t enthusiastic about the idea can help protect them from the financial risks that come with advanced age.