Family Crisis Never Comes When Convenient

Family Crisis – Those words can strike fear in most adults. A simple search of “Family Crisis, caring for the

Family Crisis – Those words can strike fear in most adults.

A simple search of “Family Crisis, caring for the elderly” in the New York Times, finds numerous articles covering a wide range of options and alternative programs.

So too, crisis within a family may take many forms. Violence in a family.

Crisis may be in the form of Grandparents who suddenly have to take on raising their Grandchildren after years out of the Parental Melting Pot of School, Extracurricular endeavors like sports, dance, etc.

Crisis may come from an accident or injury to a parent that suddenly makes them need care from their adult children. Crisis may come from an adult child who suffers an injury and needs care. Both of these situations may make Guardianship a necessary court intervention.

Of course, Interventions are by design adversarial, and Court Interventions are no less so.

The Court’s process in a Guardianship begins with a “Petition to Determine Competence.” I doubt there is anything more harmful to family interaction than one family member going to court seeking to have the judge find another family member Incompetent.

Perhaps employing an Elder Care Specialist might be helpful. More than 4 years ago the times reported shortages in this area.

Typically, the adult children have been helping “Mom or Dad” in various ways and in varying amounts over many weeks, months or even years. One child takes them to the doctor, the pharmacist, and to lunch every Saturday. One Child does all their banking, making sure the doctor is paid, the pharmacist is paid and the credit cards are all paid. One child calls every day, hears about the trip to the doctor, the trip to the pharmacist, and even hears all about the luncheon on Saturday. Each child feels they are doing a lot, and all feel Mom and Dad need their help for this, that or the other task. Eventually, one child decides “something must be done” to either spread the burden of care, or establish authority for care, or once and for all to affirm to everyone else that “I am in charge!”

Sometimes people have to take time off of work. Many people still think Family Medical Leave Act provides payment for these “job vacations.” Not true. What to do?

At this point it is important to know that a Guardianship can be expensive. The legislature requires that people must be represented by an attorney in Guardianship Proceedings. This includes any individual seeking to become the Guardian, as well as any other party who wants to be involved in the process. Additionally, the Proposed Ward must be represented by an independent attorney, known as an Attorney Elisor, to protect the Proposed Ward’s interests; after all, this proceeding may remove substantial rights of citizenship including the right to vote, the right to marry, the right to decide where and with whom to live, etc.

The Court will appoint 3 people to evaluate the Proposed Ward, including two doctors and one “layperson” with experience in evaluations of Alzheimer’s, Dementia or Eldercare. These must be paid and must complete their evaluation in a timely manner, usually within about 30-60 days of appointment. Occasionally, these people meet with delays in completing their evaluations, and like all things in the legal world, delays may require additional time and fees.

Sometimes Family Crisis comes from Divorce. Other times the crisis comes from assets being hidden or bank accounts being frozen by the courts or by opposing parties. Even though they look similar, Financial abuse of the elderly can be a serious crime, but may simply be Medicaid Planning in a thought out (if not talked out) process.

What Family Crisis are You Facing today? Do you need help? If you have all the answers, please let the rest of us know. If you would like to discuss some collaborative, creative or essential solutions to a Family Crisis, call me, at 407-645-3297.  Or visit my website at