Many elders in Florida have adult children who help them run errands, travel to doctor appointments and handle things around the house, such as lawn maintenance or household repairs. Some aging parents also rely on their children to help them keep their finances organized. When a parent has several children, problems can arise if, as siblings, they disagree about important issues such as guardianship.
For many, the idea of seeking conservatorship is used by those adult children whose parents are declining in health as they age. The role of a conservator, also known as a guardian in Florida, can also apply to those seeking the care of minors when their parents are no longer living or able to care for the children. However, conservatorship is sometimes necessary when a family member is unable to make wise or safe decisions because of mental illness or other circumstances, such as in the case of singer Britney Spears.
Watching a loved one's health decline is difficult. The unfortunate truth is that most people reach a stage where they are unable to care for themselves without having planned for this possibility. Without an advance health care directive or power of attorney in place, family members may be unable to make important medical, financial and legal decisions for their loved one without the intervention of the Florida courts.
A power of attorney can be an important and powerful document. When people sign these documents, they are giving someone else control over their legal and financial decisions. This may seem like a risk, and that is why many in Florida hesitate to include a power of attorney in their estate plans. However, it is also an essential protection in case they become incapacitated and unable to manage their finances on their own.
One of the most difficult things adult children must discuss with their aging Florida parents is the need for a solid estate plan. Beyond distributing assets after parents pass away, a well-crafted estate plan includes documents that can protect one's parent during life, including a power of attorney and health care proxy. When a parent refuses to sign such documents, it may leave an adult child with few choices except seeking guardianship if his or her parent becomes unable to handle necessary financial and medical issues.
There may be few things more devastating than watching a loved one begin to decline into physical and mental illness late in life. In some cases, the loved one may remain vibrant and desire to continue with normal activities as long as possible. Nevertheless, if a guardian is appointed for the person and his or her estate, things may get complicated. While guardianship can be a critical responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of an aging loved one, it may be difficult to stand by and watch a guardian overstepping the bounds of his or her duties.