We all want our elderly relatives to live happily and comfortably into their old age. While most don’t want to give up their independence, sometimes the best option can be to act as a guardian for an older person if they are vulnerable and lack the capacity to care for themselves.
Guardianship agreements are growing in number as the population ages. While data for England and Wales is not available, in Scotland, 2020 figures from the Mental Welfare Commission showed that the number of people on a guardianship order increased from 6,400 in 2012 to 16,000 in 2020.
Understanding this area of the law and elder law more generally is therefore important for anyone wishing to prepare for the future. In this guide, we explore what it is, what it means, and how family solicitors can support you should you need to help an elderly relative.
Understanding guardianship and elder law
Elder law refers to laws which are primary focused on protecting elderly people. It covers a wide range of things, including planning how to fund care costs, funeral plans, wills, trusts, probate, estate management and much more.
Guardianship is an area of elder law. It involves what happens when an elderly person can no longer take care of themselves on their own, either on a temporary or long-term basis. Guardianship arrangements can help people with conditions like dementia, autism, learning disabilities, and so forth. They can only be imposed on an older person if they lack capacity to make decisions for themselves though.
Guardianship and elder law and incredibly important. Without it, individuals may find themselves receiving poor care or be open for abuse or exploitation. Families might not know what to do with their elderly relatives, leaving to stress and confusion, particularly if it is difficult to discern whether the individual has capacity or not. And in the worst cases, family feuds might break out over things like inheritance.
How family solicitors can help
To avoid these issues, a legal expert in family law can be incredibly helpful. Family solicitors can play a key role in assisting families with guardianship arrangements and addressing legal concerns related to elderly relatives.
With an expert, you can decide early on what will happen regarding your care and your assets when you become ill or pass away, giving you peace of mind regarding your arrangements. A lawyer will provide expert legal advice and guidance to you and your family, all while prioritising your best interests throughout the process. And if disputes arise, they can help resolve them.
Do you have your legal matters settled in case you become ill or pass away? Let us know your thoughts on guardianship and elder law below.