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

A fellow caregiver 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?


Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

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 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.