What forms do I need to act for my parents?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 04, 2010
A fellow caregiver asked...

I am being appointed guardian and conservator for my mom who has dementia and a host of other problems and is now in a nursing home. My dad, 88 and also with dementia, is still living and refusing to cooperate with decisions that have been made. I will need to access joint accounts to pay for Mom's care, and gather information to apply for Medicaid when her portion of the resources are exhausted. What legal forms will the financial institutions require? They seem to want a power of attorney, but that won't be possible at this point. Isn't a conservatorship more far reaching?

Expert Answers

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

You are correct. Use of Durable Powers of Attorney are becoming more common. A Durable Power of Attorney is a document by which a person, while competent, appoints someone else to be able to act on their behalf. However, the guardianship and conservatorship appointments that you have are even better in your circumstance. These are court issued orders that give you the power to act in regard to your mother's financial and health matters. If you encounter a financial institution employee who is not familiar with these, merely ask to speak to a supervisor.