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Protective Services and Senior Citizens

Updated on September 19, 2009
Senior Citizen by blackpitshooting
Senior Citizen by blackpitshooting

About three years ago, I had the miserable experience of calling my local county coroner to have my parents picked up for an evaluation. In my state, it is the coroner who has responsibility to execute an Order of Protective Custody.

This is no step a child wants to take. Sheriffs deputies went to my parents' house and took them to the local hospital emergency room where the attending physician evaluated them for further action. My mother's problems were obvious. She was in the mid stages of Alzheimer's and quickly approaching the advanced stages. My father's problems were less obvious. I noticed them and that is why I executed the Order of Protective Custody.

Sadly he was able to fool the doctor, and he was released. Since he was not deemed mentally incapacitated, he was able to take my mother home as he was her caregiver and had the legal authority to do so.

The next step for me would have been a legal interdiction, where I literally go to court to claim guardianship of my parents due to reduced mental capacity. I never go to that point because my father died four months after his hospital evaluation, and my mother went into a nursing home full time.

The law in all states allow for an elderly person to be declared incompetent and have a guardian appointed. The guardian is often a family member but it could be a state agency. The guardian then can make decisions for an elderly person but, of course, only in their best interest. They are charged with preserving the estate of their ward and act as their ward's representative.

Other arrangements whereby a person or institution can act on behalf of someone who is incapacitated include conservatorships, durable powers of attorney, and trusts. A revocable living trust is a convenient way for an elderly person to avoid a guardian gaining control of that person's estate. If the elderly person regains capacity, the trust can be revoked. A trust can be used in the place of a will after the death of the trust owner.

Another form of substitute management of a senior citizen's assets when the senior is incapacitated is a payeeship. The payee receives income that normally would have gone to the senior citizen and can only be used for the benefit of that senior.

Senior citizens are well advised to prepare for their own potential incapacity by setting up their arrangements to protect and preserve their estate long before the onset of an potential incapacitation. Seniors with a large estate are advised to seek the advice a lawyer specializing in elder issues.

You should be able to find resources like this from Louisiana in your state.


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