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How do you take responsibility for an elderly parent?

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | Conservatorship |

Your parents helped you take your first steps, and they held your hand when you faced stressful times. As your parents age, the roles start to reverse, and you become the one helping them with daily tasks and being there for them.

This role reversal can be overwhelming and emotional. What can you do to help take on legal responsibilities for your aging parent?

5 steps to consider when taking legal responsibility

Just as your parents held legal responsibility for you when you were a minor, it may be necessary to obtain legal responsibility for your parent. In such situations, it will help to take the following steps:

  1. Always lead with empathy: Your elderly parent is likely struggling with the fact that they are losing the capacity or abilities they once had. Think from their perspective and be gentle with them as you discuss your options moving forward.
  2. Start – and maintain – the conversations: The matter of taking responsibility for your parent is not a decision you can make on your own. You must discuss the details with your parents, siblings and any other relevant parties. It is critical to involve your family in every step to avoid confusion, potential disputes or distrust.
  3. Review their finances: To take on legal and financial responsibility, it will help to actually know where your parent stands. Gather financial paperwork and statements, take an inventory of their accounts and even visit the banks with them to understand the full scope of their finances.
  4. Keep track of everything: This is another helpful step to improve your understanding and avoid conflict. If you document the steps you take and organize all of the paperwork you will have to complete, it can help reduce your own stress as you navigate this process.
  5. Understand conservatorships: The four previous steps can help you prepare. However, actually establishing a conservatorship – if that is in the best interest of your aging parent – also involves specific steps you must follow. You and your family should take time to understand the details of this legal tool and how it can protect your loved one and their assets. Then you must carefully review the process of obtaining a conservatorship in California.

This process can be difficult for you and your whole family. It may help to speak with an experienced attorney in these cases to help you stay informed at each step and protect your parent.