What is Guardianship and How Do I Get One for a Parent? Idaho Attorney Jim Bendell Explains

Uploaded by coeurdaleneattorney on 18.12.2012

You have an aging parent. They’re having problems with memory. Maybe they’ve been
diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Someone says you need to get a guardianship
for them. What does that mean and how do you go about getting a guardianship? Welcome.
My name is Jim Bendell. I’m an attorney practicing in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. For
older folks who are having issues with mental capacities, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s,
guardianship is a type of procedure – a lawsuit, in fact – were a case is brought
in court for a judge to appoint somebody else (usually an adult child of that person) to
act as their guardian. That is to make decisions for them and that includes financial decisions,
as well as personal decisions in life such as getting medical care. Now it is a lawsuit.
Under the law, if you petition for guardianship the law requires that a copy be served on
your adult parent. The court will appoint a free attorney for that parent to evaluate
the case to make sure that the guardianship is brought in good faith. That is to say that
the person really does suffer some sort of impairment. In the past, there have unfortunately
been instances where people have actually tried to exploit their own parents. Whereas
the guardianship is designed to prevent financial exploitation from any person, including somebody’s
children. Now your attorney will file a petition in court and the judge – in addition to
appointing an attorney for your parent – will have a court approved visitor which is usually
a social worker who will go out and interview your parent and interview you and see if a
guardianship is really necessary. The judge will also want a doctor’s report. Now all
of these things are set in place so that the right type of guardianship is ordered by the
judge. Idaho has a unique statute when dealing with guardianship. And the statute says that
is a guardianship is needed or a conservatorship is needed (a conservatorship just deals with
financial matters, guardianship deals with all aspects of the person’s life). If that,
if one of those is needed, the judge is ordered by Idaho law to have the least amount of restrictions
on the elderly person, to have the least amount of depredation of his liberty consisting with
his dignity in life. Why am I telling you this? Because if you’re watching this, you
have questions about guardianship and conservatorship. These are the types of questions I answer
every day in my law practice. What I’d like you to do next is pick up the phone and call
me and I’ll answer your questions for you. I’m Jim Bendell, thank you for watching.