How can I get emergency guardianship of my adult son who has a mental illness?

3 answers | Last updated: Apr 10, 2014
Bitzygal asked...
Our son is young adult with schizophrenia. He suffers severe delusions and has been hospitalized numerous times in the past year.Would a guardianship help me help preserve his rights when he disagrees with taking harsh drugs? What are the risks and benefits of guardianship in such a case?

Answers User - Barbara Kate Repa Expert
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Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of WillMaker, software enabling consumers to...
47% helpful

As noted below, there are advantages and disadvantages to setting up a conservatorship, but in your son’s case, it might provide the best protection against medical treatment that you feel See also:
Can I add my mother to health insurance if I have guardianship?
may be overzealous.

The advantages include that a guardianship:

  • Lets family members know that someone is making decisions
  • Gives clear legal authority to deal with third parties, and
  • Provides a process to have a judge approve major decisions.

The disadvantages of a guardianship include that it is:

  • Costly to set up, requiring a lawyer, legal papers, and a court hearing
  • Time-consuming, including extensive ongoing paperwork
  • Can be humiliating for a parent who is still somewhat capable, and
  • Can be emotionally difficult if family members disagree about who should be conservator.

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60% helpful
daisym answered...

Two years ago I had to make the difficult decision to act on the behalf of a loved one for their safety mainly and their health. We went through a family lawyer and I was able to become guardian. This has proven to be the most beneficial decision for the family. I must emphasize, though, how important it is to maintain contact with the caretakers if the person is in a residential setting and always take a proactive initiative. Do not assume you will always be informed unless you are known to his/her caretaking community. There are many people on many shifts at the facilities doing a job that is very difficult on a daily basis. Most other residents where my sibling lives are not looked in on by their family members at all. Good luck. Do not give up. This condition lasts their lifetime and yours. For your own health you will know what is best. Mental health disease robs us of the future our loved ones may have had but we must help to protect their future for the sake of their future health and safety, ours and others. It was a very difficult choice but the best one in our case. I did this after my parents were deceased which was also very difficult emotionally for everyone but had to be done so that they did not become wards of the state. You as parents can do this and name someone to carry out your responsibility so that in the event of your death their care is continued to their best interest. Maybe their treatment can be temporary. But that answer will still take time to find out. My prayers for your decision.


50% helpful
An anonymous caregiver answered...

Dear Bitzygal: In response to your question-will you be able to get help when the loved one refuses medicines-in our case I was. Keep an open dialogue with caretakers, social workers or other therapists or even observant family and friends involved with helping you care for this person so that you can foresee this happening... You may need to call 911 to transport the individual to hospital but because you have guardianship, you can make that decision. They may still refuse while in the hospital but in the proper care and under supervision the situation can be assessed so that the next appropriate procedures can be set in motion. It is a most difficult type of tough love...they won't like you but your love for them has to be your motivator to preserve their quality of life as well as yours. The alternative is not anything I like to consider. While my parents were alive, they really did not have any control over the choices that were made for the person that was ill merely by being the parents. A person with a different type of illness-cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc., may also choose to refuse medicine, and we see this be to be unhealthy, too. These illnesses do not result, however, in outcomes which have the potential to cause disastrous harm to themselves or other people, which, thankfully our family has avoided. Be vigilant and thoughtful. Worrying 24 hours is not a solution, though. My prayer life and my family are also very supportive.


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