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

10 answers | Last updated: Mar 27, 2015
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?

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38% 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:
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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.

More Answers
33% 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.


56% 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.


70% helpful
An anonymous caregiver answered...

Unfortunately drugs ARE the answer. I got guardianship of my schizophrenic brother after suffering for years of med noncompliance and it changed life for the whole family. I did it by myself without a lawyer. The system is broken and will mostly not help you and when it comes to this save yourself the years it will waste and get guardianship now! I wish we had done it 30 years ago. The hardest part for me was getting the medical certificate from "professionals" treating him. No one wants to stick their neck out and its messed up. Do whatever it takes including lying if/when you have to. He needs to be on disability immediately! He should be associated with the dept of mental health, have a social worker and a prescriber, in home care if he lives on his own and stable housing. I started with the basics before getting guardianship. Clean house, clean clothes and food in the pantry. Get him used to having you around and do what you have to to take care of him. Lawyers will charge you tons and most likely not be successful. You have the right to represent yourself and when the court people got frustrated or surly I would remind them of that fact. Temporary guardianship can be obtained during a crisis and that's the time to do it. During or right after a hospitalization go for temporary guardianship. It can then become permanent. Don't ask for a big guardianship - ask to be able to get services, health care info etc.. If your son is like my brother he can't take care of himself in his condition. It's absolutely crazy to expect someone with such a sever mental illness to do so..good luck and I'm here to tell you things get soooo much better when you have a team in place - a saftey net to hold him close and keep him safe. Now my bro has a DMH worker, a day program 3 days a week and a ride there and back. He has disability, housing, food stamps, a free cell phone, a visiting nurse who comes every night to make sure he takes medicine and check on him, a great doctor and a therapist! Do it now and save yourself years of worry and emergency calls and the stress that all that puts on you and your family....good luck - time for tiger mode!


33% helpful
_dex1e_ answered...

Hello Anonymous Caregiver,

My mom found your response above to be very encouraging. You gave her hope for our youngest sibling who is currently on his second 5250 hold since March.

She asked me to reach out and request for contact. I know you are probably very busy and don't want to go over telling your situation with your family member again, but my mom would like to find out what specific steps you took to get your brother the care he needs.

My brother's illness has drained our family savings and we no longer have the resources. Any information you can share will be heaven-sent.

Thank you, Dexie


disappointed mom answered...

Anonymous Caregiver, I also would like to know the steps you took to get there. I have an 18 yr old son who is severely delusional and the docs want to set him out to a homeless shelter. I cannot bring him home because I have an 11 yrs old daughter and his delusions are mostly sexual. so you understand why I cant bring him home but at the same time this is my son. does anyone have any suggestions?


50% helpful
desparate mom answered...

I too would like info on what steps you took to get guardianship I have struggled for 8 years with my 27 year old daughter who has schizophrenia she is refusing to take her medication AGAIN and I fear whats coming - I need to keep her safe. please any help would be appreciated.


daisym answered...

Five years since making the decision it was still the right one. Each year that goes by reassures me of that. Their health and safety as well as that of those around them makes it doubly correct. Prayers help us all but thank God daily for good medicine and trained and caring health care workers. Emotionally it is difficult but not caring for them this way would have been morally wrong of me. They realize it as well. We discuss it a lot. The caring professionals where they reside are reassuring and they are so under appreciated and greatly misunderstood by outsiders to the serious nature of mental health behaviors. There does not seem to be a cure but maintenance must be established. I could go into lots more detail but would rather protect some privacy. A lawyer will know the proper procedure to take to bring this issue to court. The person taken as a ward may be shown to be a harm to his health or others or unable to care for themselves.


influence answered...

Each state has different resources and it would be nice to be able to have a list of those resources, whether State or Private or Non-profit and their ratings. Today I paid to have a lawyer retained to obtain guardianship and it was very expensive. There are not many lawyers that do the guardianship. If I had known that I could do it myself I would cancel that check, but I already signed a contract.


Desperate Mother answered...

My daughter is 23 and bipolar, she just got out of the mental health hospital for the 2nd time in 5 weeks. I'm trying to save her from herself or hurting someone else in the process. The system sucks! I need to get her in a facility for more than 72 hours without her being able to sign herself out. Any information to help me do this is very much appreciated. Today she even hooked up with a guy she met in the mental unit at the hospital. I almost wish that she would get arrested so no one would bail her out.


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