Can we get a guardianship over a family member that was placed in a nursing home by another family member?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 26, 2016
Shercomsto asked...

My husband's cousin has placed his grandmother in a Nursing home and failed to notify next of kin. We found out about this 1 month after the event occurred by having a friend call and inquire about the grandmother. We had tried several times to contact the grandmother ourselves and were told she was staying with her brother, helping out. We found the grandmother by calling Nursing home from the yellow pages and were withheld information because we were not on information contact sheet. The niece says she has POA and commented that this all happen very quickly. We have discoved by a Facebook Post that the grandmother was admitted on June 11th. We found out July 10th, one month afterwards. Do we have any rights now and can we gain guardianship at this time. We have continuouly asked the grandmother to move into home. We also currently are taking care of her daughter, my husband mother. The grandmother also was the caregiver to my husband when he was young, so she is more like a mother than grandmother.

Expert Answers

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.

A guardianship happens in much the same way, whether or not a person is living in a nursing home or in his or her own home. Someone begins the process by filing a petition in court demanding that an adult guardian or conservator should be appointed"”and setting out the reasons why. The closest next of kin get notice of this procedure"”and are free to come to court to argue for or against the appointment.

But before you decide to take any of these steps, it may be wise to get some additional information, since much that you're going on now seems to have been gathered from Facebook posts and more distant relatives' opinions. You will need to find out the grandmother's actual current health status, whether she could be adequately cared for in your home and exactly what kind of care would be needed, in addition to her own wishes if she's able to express them.

Since you don't seem to be getting direct information from the relatives who are currently involved with the grandmother, you may need to ask another person to step in to help you find out the truth.

A good place to start may be with the nursing home's ombudsman, who is a neutral person assigned to oversee the nursing home and help work out problems and concerns for residents there. If you visit the nursing home, the contact information for the ombudsman should be listed there. Or you can find that information through the ombudsman resource center online at