Even with the best intentions, most senior citizens don’t plan for a future in which they may be incapacitated. Perhaps they didn’t want to face the prospect of losing autonomy, or perhaps they fell ill before they had a chance to plan. Either way, for those with elder relatives and loved ones who no longer appear able to make sound financial decisions, petitioning for an adult conservatorship in Cobb County may be a viable option.
Even if an adult doesn’t appear to be capable, they won’t automatically lose their freedom to handle their own affairs unless the matter comes before a judge in a court of law. Fortunately, you can bring the matter in front of a judge yourself if you believe that your loved one would be better off with you handling things. Here are some steps you will likely need to take if you decide this is the right path for you and/or your loved one:
- Gather information on finances, health, and family.
Courts prefer to grant conservatorships to close relatives. If you’re a family member, it may be easier to get a conservatorship but it is by no means a guarantee. You’ll also have to show the court what finances need to be managed and why. To do this, you’ll need both financial documentation and a recent (within 15 days of the filing of the petition, see next paragraph) doctor’s report to show that the elderly person (or ward) isn’t competent to handle their own affairs.
- Petition the court and let other relatives know.
This is a trickier process, and a Marietta elder law attorney can help you. You’ll have to petition the court and send notice to the elder person’s relatives. They may contest your bid for a conservatorship, either by simply contesting it or by wishing to be made conservator instead. The court will appoint a lawyer to represent the proposed ward and order an independent medical exam to confirm the doctor’s report filed with the petition.
- Go to the initial court hearing.
Whether your petition is contested or uncontested, you must go to the first initial court hearing. At this time, you will present evidence to support your claim that a conservatorship is needed. If the court agrees that one is in your elder relative’s best interest, you will be appointed as conservators.
It’s important to remember that when petitioning for a conservatorship, the judge and the court-appointed attorney aren’t your lawyers. Retaining your own Marietta elder law attorney to assist you in the process will ensure that you do what the court expects and that the petition process goes as smoothly as possible.
If you would like more information on how our Marietta elder attorneys can help support you through the conservatorship process and navigate any additional elder law and long-term care issues that you may face, contact our Marietta law firm at 770-425-6060 to schedule a consultation.