Grandparents are invaluable. They share their endless wisdom with you and often spoil their grandkids. While grandparents that spoil the grandkids are awesome, incapacitated grandparents with significant assets are a problem. Assets could be depleted, even stolen, leaving your grandparents destitute in their final years. While the idea of stepping in and taking over your grandparent’s finances and/or decision-making may make you uncomfortable, not doing so could put your grandparents at risk. A Tucson elder law attorney at Morris Hall PLLC discusses how to protect your incapacitated wealthy grandparents.
Generosity Can Be Problematic
Whether your grandparents appear to have modest assets or unlimited financial resources, they may have been generous with what they have your entire life – or they may have suddenly become generous. From the perspective of a grandchild, it is often difficult to know when a grandparent’s generosity should cause concern. After all, it is their money, right? While that is certainly true, if a grandparent is also suffering from mental impairment, he/she may not understand that generosity’s financial and practical ramifications. Some signs to watch for that may indicate that your grandparent’s generosity is a result of impairment include:
- A noticeable change in the number of gifts
- Gifting to unknown recipients
- Gifting more frequently
- Not gifting to long-time beneficiaries in favor of new beneficiaries
- Late payments or disconnect notices for household bills
- Gifting at odd times (and not gifting when expected)
- Signs of memory loss (forgetting names, dates, events)
Understanding Adult Conservatorship in Arizona
In Arizona, if a court determines that an adult is unable to manage his/her affairs (finances, assets, and estate) and/or make decisions for himself/herself, the court will appoint a Conservator or Guardian, respectively.
A conservator may be appointed if the adult has income or property which will be wasted or used up unless proper management is provided; funds are needed for his or her support, or the funds are needed for the support of persons legally entitled to support from the person said to need the conservator.
A guardian may be appointed if the adult is physically or mentally unable to take care of all of his or her own needs and requires someone legally authorized and responsible for acting in his or her best interests.
The court may appoint you to be either a conservator or a guardian or appoint you to be both.
Is Conservatorship/Guardianship the Answer?
The idea of taking away your grandparent’s ability to manage his/her own finances sounds harsh. It may feel as though you are taking away their freedom and autonomy. Conservatorship is, in fact, the avenue of last resort in the eyes of the law. A court will only consider guardianship when less intrusive alternatives are not appropriate.
How Do I Become My Grandparent’s Conservator/Guardian?
If you are worried about your elderly grandparents, consult with an experienced elder law attorney right away. Your attorney can help you decide if conservatorship/guardianship is the best option. To become your grandparent’s conservator/guardian, you must file a petition with the appropriate court. Both the proposed ward and immediate relatives must be notified of the petition. The court will assign a court investigator after the petition has been filed and eventually a hearing will be set to determine if your grandparent needs a conservator and/or guardian and, if so, whether you are an appropriate person to appoint as the conservator/guardian.
Contact a Tucson Elder Law Attorney
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about petitioning for conservatorship or guardianship in Arizona, contact an experienced Tucson elder law attorney at Morris Hall PLLC by calling 888-222-1328 to schedule your appointment today.
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