Can I add my mother to health insurance if I have guardianship?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I would like to know if and how I can get guardianship over my mother so I can add to my health insurance. The insurance she currently has costs way to much. She is legally blind and I would like her to have the best healthcare.

Expert Answer

Legal adult guardianship (called conservatorship in some states) involves preparing and filing legal documents. It also means that you and your mother must go to court to have a judge decide whether guardianship is appropriate, whether it should be guardianship over her estate (legal and financial affairs) or over her person (all other decisions), and whether you are the right person to be her guardian. If your mother understands the process and wants you to become her guardian, the process might be easier. On the other hand, because your mother is mentally competent to handle her own affairs, it's not certain that a judge would allow a guardianship.

Guardianship or conservatorship is usually used only when an elder is no longer able to make decisions for herself. Since your mother is competent to make decisions but only has a physical condition – her near-blindness – that makes life more difficult for her (and you), a judge might want to know why a guardianship is necessary. Your mother may have to explain in the legal papers, and again in court, that her lack of vision makes it too difficult for her to make the normal decisions of daily life.

Before you begin the process of finding out about guardianship in your state, make sure you take a close look at the requirements for coverage as guardian under your health insurance policy. It may require you to be guardian of the person and not just guardian of the estate. You have to make sure that your court-ordered guardianship, if you get it, fits the insurance company's requirements.

To understand more about the guardianship process, see this web site's article Conservatorship and Adult guardianship: A Beginner's Guide . Usually, preparing the legal documents and going to court requires the help of a lawyer experienced in guardianship proceedings. To find a lawyer who does this kind of work, contact the bar association for the county where you or your parent live, and ask for its lawyer referral service. When you contact the referral service, ask for the names of local lawyers who specialize in conservatorships or elder law. You can also contact the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys for a referral to its members in your area.