Becoming Guardian for an Elderly Father Should Be Last Resort

HNWElder Law, Guardianship Law

elderly fatherQuestions about how to go about becoming a parent’s legal guardian are asked every week.  Often by siblings who are at odds with other siblings over a parent’s care.

A child believes Dad needs assisted living and the others think he belongs at home where he is comfortable. He’s very frail but has his faculties. The sister won’t listen and Dad won’t comment because he doesn’t want to play favorites. Brother and sister are constantly fighting about this.

In this emotionally charged discussion motivated by genuine parental concern, either child could pursue becoming their father’s legal guardian, but I would only reluctantly recommend it. It’s an expensive process, would be traumatizing for everyone, and probably damage your relationship with the family. It also seems unnecessary for this situation.

Instead, try using a neutral third party to mediate your disagreement. That party could be a geriatric care manager, a psychologist, family and geriatric physician.  There are certified mediators in our community. Mediation will give everyone, your father included, the chance to speak candidly and civilly. Hopefully the dilemma can be resolved without going the guardianship route.

One other thought based on my many years of experience: Don’t dismiss out-of-hand the value of assisted living for your father, even though it is not his “home.” Assisted living can provide expanded opportunities for activity and socialization. That could benefit your father more than remaining in his familiar environment. Just something to think about.

Contact me personally today to discuss your New Jersey guardianship matter.  I am easy to talk to, very approachable and can offer you practical, legal ways to handle your concerns.  You can reach me toll free at (855) 376-5291 or e-mail me at

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold Township, Monmouth County New Jersey Guardianship Attorney

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