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What if a Hostile Family Member Wants to Become Your Guardian?

“Tony Sr. has been at odds with his son, Tony, Jr, for years over a ranch Senior inherited from his father 20 years ago. The conflict arose shortly after the father/grandfather died.”

It’s a scary thought. Your own child is angry about your inheriting the family ranch and for 20 years has wanted you to sell the property and split the money with him and his sister. You know your son is not good with money and has no interest in keeping the family ranch intact. These are two things that you can’t overlook.  However, now you’re aging, and he is threatening to have you declared incompetent and institutionalized. Can you protect yourself? The article “Aging parents can protect against unwanted control by children” from Glen Rose Reporter, offers some straightforward answers.

There are protections available.  However, you’ll need to take action and speak with an estate planning attorney. Start by naming someone as your Medical Power of Attorney to make any decisions regarding medical treatment, in case you can’t make them for yourself. Don’t name your son or daughter—without the POA, the state law would put your son in that position of power.

Discuss with the person you want to designate as your POA, what your wishes are about health care and whether you want to have extreme measures taken, if they were to become necessary. Make sure they understand that their role is to carry out your wishes and they must be prepared to make some hard decisions.

In some states, a competent person can name the preferred guardian of their person or their estate, as well as the person(s) they do NOT want to be appointed. Have your attorney prepare and sign a declaration to that effect, in compliance with the laws of your state.

Your goal is to protect yourself, as well as your family ranch.

If you were to become incompetent, the judge appointing a guardian for you would be required to follow the directions in your declaration, unless that person is found to be disqualified or would not serve your best interests.

This is a heartbreaking scenario and its one you hope you’ll never have to face. However, we know our children better than anyone else and we know what they may or may not do as we age.

Speak with an estate planning attorney to create the needed documents for this situation and make sure your will and any other legal documents have been prepared with the family issue in mind. You may not be able to change your child’s behavior, but you can prepare for it.

Reference: Glen Rose Reporter (Sep. 17, 2018) “Aging parents can protect against unwanted control by children”

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