The law in Colorado allows those concerned about the well-being of an older adult to go to court and request either a guardianship or a conservatorship. A guardianship allows one adult to assume legal responsibility for the daily life of another adult, a choice which often helps protect the interests of someone who is no longer capable of fully meeting their own needs on a day-to-day basis.
A conservatorship grants an outside party control over someone’s financial resources, a move that could ultimately help preserve those assets throughout someone’s golden years when they might struggle to manage their finances independently. Although those who care about an older adult may worry that they will feel offended or hurt by the decision to pursue a guardianship or conservatorship, doing so might be the best option. If family members fail to act, professionals at a care facility might take legal action instead.
Care providers can also take legal action
Families in Colorado often lack familiarity with the rules for guardianship and conservatorship. They may not understand, for example, that Colorado law permits any competent adults with verifiable concerns about someone else’s ability to live independently to initiate litigation about the matter. Businesses such as nursing homes that worry that an older adult will mismanage their resources might seek a guardianship or conservatorship to gain control over their assets and ensure that the older adult resources go toward paying their financial responsibilities for residential care before anything else.
Although a conservator or guardian technically has a fiduciary duty to the person whose life or resources they must manage, professionals seeking that authority often care more about the financial stability of their employer than the best interests of the older adult struggling to manage day-to-day life or financial matters. Families that have noticed signs of cognitive decline in a loved one and that have thus far delayed taking legal action may choose to go to probate court when they learn about the possibility of a professional employed by a care facility initiating legal action to take over that important position.
Recognizing how a delay in action could leave a loved one particularly vulnerable may help people find the inspiration they need to pursue guardianship or conservatorship for the protection of an aging loved one.