Claiming Incompetence and Its Effect on an Estate
If you’ve been watching as a family member slowly loses memory or cognitive function, you will eventually have to use the court system to legally claim the person is incompetent. Generally, this is a time-consuming process that will require the help of an estate planner and several doctors.
If you suspect that your parent is quickly losing the ability to make sound decisions, quietly and quickly consult with any attending physicians. In addition, discreetly seek the advice of a lawyer. You may want to avoid any conversations with your family about such a sensitive issue. If your parent has a spouse (perhaps your other parent, or not), you may need additional legal maneuvers if that spouse is not the best person to make decisions for your parent.
Your parent’s will is going to quickly become a contentious topic if there is a significant amount of money or property to be managed. Your parent is likely to be assigned a guardian of his or her estate. Frequently that is the surviving spouse. Once that guardian take control, he or she will have significant control of the estate’s assets.
A lawyer can easily ensure that your parent’s estate, in its present form, is protected from any irresponsible or mischievous actions by the most likely guardian. Frequently, a third-party, like an accountant or lawyer, is the best person to control the estate until your parent’s estate is distributed upon his or her death.
Guardianship is a complicated legal and emotional matter. Hire a lawyer before you begin talking about the issue with anyone in the family.