How do I set up a business as a guardian for the elderly?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I am in the health care field. In the near future, i would like to set up my own business as an guardian for the elderly. What do i need to do to do so?

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 you might imagine, courts are very careful in appointing guardians and conservators to make decisions for elderly people -- and are careful to protect this often needy and vulnerable population.

So there are hidebound procedures and hoops to jump for becoming a guardian or conservator, especially for people who are not related to the person they will be helping. The underlying procedures behind each appointment usually involve a court hearing that is held on a petition alleging that a person is incapacitated person and unable to handle his or her own affairs. In the majority of cases, the court will appoint a family member or friend, but sometimes, professional care providers are given the job if no one else is eligible.

It can take a number of years for people who wish to work as a professional guardians or conservators to accumulate the size and type of caseload that will allow them to take in a reliable source of income. Depending on the county in which they work, they may be able to charge an hourly rate for their work with some clients; however, not all clients will require more than an hour or two of billable time in a month.

Those who are most successful are networking mavens -- making themselves known to attorneys and others in the medical, housing, and social services fields who may refer people for guardianships and conservatorships.

If all this doesn't leave you feeling overly discouraged, you can get specific information from the National Guardianship Association and from your state court's website, by searching under “Guardianship" or "Conservatorship."