How can I go about as power of attorney transferring guardianship of my mother?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 11, 2009
A fellow caregiver asked...

I have power of attorney for my mother, who has Alzheimer's, and want to start transferring guardianship. I have two brothers and one sister and have asked them for two years for help with our mother. I would like to be removed as power of attorney but don't know how to do it. I handle everything for her: money, medical and personal needs. She lives in an adult group home.

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.

You can end your duties as the agent under your mother’s power of attorney if you’re no longer able and willing to perform them. But the local court—usually the superior court—will need to know that there is someone who is able to attend to her needs if she is unable to do that herself.

The best route for you may be to petition for a conservatorship, also called an adult guardianship, which gives another person the legal right to make necessary decisions on your mother’s behalf. It would allow the person appointed to oversee or personally be responsible for her care, custody, and control.

If your siblings are not willing to take on the job, and you know of no other relative or friend to do it, then the court would likely appoint a person who is trained for the job. The drawback to this arrangement is that the appointed person will likely be a stranger to your mother, and may not be immediately attuned to her wants and needs. But at least you will all have peace of mind knowing that her needs will be attended to by a live body. You might want to check with the group home owners to se whether there is someone on the premises who could take on this task.

Whether you will need to hire an attorney for help with this process depends on the set-up of the local court that oversees conservatorships; they vary wildly. Courts in some places have very good self-help centers that provide necessary forms and instructions for how to complete and file them. Find out by doing a search of your city or county and the words "conservatorship" or "guardianship."

If your court does not provide good help, or the idea of going it alone just seems too overwhelming, you should be able to get referrals for low-cost or free legal help through the local or state bar association.

Here's some additional information on conservatorship and guardianship.