The incidence of Cognitive impairment increases dramatically as we age, and enlisting the help of experienced elder law or guardianship attorney is an important step in protecting our family members, as well as a crucial part of our estate planning decisions.
The statistics are sobering; in fact, more than 50% of people over age 85 suffer from some level of cognitive impairment. Concerningly, cognitive impairment is showing up in younger people as well. If you become mentally incapacitated, a court may appoint someone to protect you and your assets unless you have appointed someone to make decisions for you through a valid power of attorney.
It’s important to understand how guardianships work and why a power of attorney is usually a better option. If you have questions about guardianship in Delaware County, Chester County, or Montgomery County, PA, Slutsky Elder Law has the answers you need.
Leading Up to the Guardianship – A Guardianship Attorney can Help
When you are suffering from cognitive impairment, you might begin to have trouble making decisions about your finances, your medical care, or your living arrangements in Montgomery County, PA, or surrounding areas. Often, a friend or loved one notices that you lack the mental or cognitive capacity to make appropriate decisions for your welfare.
Anyone concerned about another person can file to have them declared incapacitated and have a guardian appointed. An interested party can oppose the appointment of a guardian but must have a blood or other close relationship. In either case, it’s best to seek the advice of an attorney with guardianship experience to address the correct path when trying to protect an impaired individual.
Generally, courts schedule hearings on guardianship cases within 30 to 60 days after the petition is filed due to Pennsylvania’s statutory requirement that the alleged incapacitated person receives 20 days’ notice of the guardianship proceeding. However, when the allegedly incapacitated person is at imminent risk of harm, emergency hearings can be scheduled in as little as 24 to 48 hours after filing.
During the hearing,
- The prospective guardian will present evidence that you are incapacitated.
- The judge will require medical testimony to prove you meet the legal definition of incapacity.
- The prospective guardian also must prove that less intrusive options are not available, including community support or a valid power of attorney.
Generally, the judge will appoint a guardian if you appear to be incapacitated. Wouldn’t you rather have someone you trust filling this role? With the assistance of an attorney in Montgomery County, PA, you can prepare all the necessary legal documents to ensure the person appointed as your guardian is someone who will truly be looking out for your best interests.