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Questions on Guardianship of Adult

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 Superesse (original poster member #60731) posted at 10:53 PM on Monday, September 25th, 2023

SI has been such a great help in times of trouble for me and others, and thus I thought some of you may have heard of this kind of FOO situation. It has to do with my long-established boundaries around a certain sibling; I made the decision years ago to stay OUT of all further drama surrounding that branch of my FOO and that has worked for us until recently.

Today, I got a surprise phone call from a local lawyer's office telling me I had been named as a living relative of a married person whose out-of-state daughter is asking for Guardianship due to medical issues (which we became aware of a few months ago because of other family calls from distant relatives who wanted to get us "involved" initially. I had to put my foot down hard about NC. It hurt, but NC meant no new hurts, as the saying goes.)

Supposedly, this call is "just a courtesy phone interview to let everybody know what is going on." I agreed I could talk with the attorney right then and there, yet then the lawyer seemed like we might not be able to cover everything real quick (after I said I was at the library). I said I can come in face-to-face if they would like, and we agreed to do that later this week.

So...what do you make of that kind of call? I speculate either the spouse isn't able to manage care and the daughter has been asked to get involved, OR one daughter isn't sure about the spouse's capabilities, either (we're in our late 60's early 70's).

Either way, I want to know as little about their decisions as possible but I have a feeling I'm going to be asked for "input." (Even though we have been estranged for over a decade). So do you think this call was just a normal procedure?

Ayeeeee. TIA

posts: 2058   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8809366
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hcsv ( member #51813) posted at 11:12 PM on Monday, September 25th, 2023

Simply say, "We have been estranged for over ten years, I am not familiar with the situation and for personal reasons, I am unable to get involved." You might need to say it several times before the attorney gets it.

After 40 years, ex turned into someone I didnt know and couldnt trust anymore. Divorced. 1/17

posts: 772   ·   registered: Feb. 14th, 2016
id 8809367
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 Superesse (original poster member #60731) posted at 11:20 PM on Monday, September 25th, 2023

hcsv, that was fast! :)

I just looked up the state requirements for appointing a Guardian and it says the Circuit Court has to make the determination of incompetency, so I think that's where the lawyer is involved, but the fact we are within the same geographic area yet the most devoted daughter lives half a country away, may be giving them pause. I just worry about the spouse, who isn't able to drive and likely cannot take on this job. Hopefully they are working together on it and not in an adversarial move. (I could imagine things getting ugly for the spouse who is not the daughter's mother but again, not my business.)

I just really feel bad for all of them. And don't want to go on record with all the family dirty laundry to some lawyer!

posts: 2058   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8809370
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tushnurse ( member #21101) posted at 11:56 PM on Monday, September 25th, 2023

You can simply decline involvement and it sounds like you should.
Call the attorney and cancel the meeting and simply state you don't want or need to be involved.

In Healthcare we see these situations arise when neglect or abuse is suspected and there is clearly no way a spouse cananage the situation then it goes to the kids. If the kids decline then the state has to seek guardianship. Sounds like that may be what's happening. Or this toxic person has burned all his bridges and no one wants to step up.

Me: FBSHim: FWSKids: 23 & 27 Married for 32 years now, was 16 at the time.D-Day Sept 26 2008R'd in about 2 years. Old Vet now.

posts: 20181   ·   registered: Oct. 1st, 2008   ·   location: St. Louis
id 8809376
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 Superesse (original poster member #60731) posted at 12:14 AM on Tuesday, September 26th, 2023

Oh Tush, thank you because I know you know a lot about this case management. I had checked the state laws several months ago and supposedly an incapacitated patient is not to be released to home care unless the caregiver is evaluated and even asked to demonstrate the care they can render, it's a law passed in 2016. But a friend whose daughter is a local MedSurg nurse said in practice, they send 'em right back home, just like they did with my father in 2009, regardless. That is what started the nightmare for us siblings. And the spouse was the one who took care of my father so probably volunteered to try but it is too much for a handicapped person like the spouse is, as well (limited mobility).

I do recall the words I heard the lawyer saying: "the daughter is requesting Guardianship." But you have me wondering! Yikes it would suck if I was being conned by the lawyer and it is really that NOBODY is going to step up and the state may need to get involved. (Like why couldn't the lawyer just tell me what was going on and leave me be....)

posts: 2058   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8809383
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 Superesse (original poster member #60731) posted at 12:50 AM on Tuesday, September 26th, 2023

Please tell me one cannot be forcibly appointed by a court to be a Guardian?

posts: 2058   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8809393
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Tanner ( Guide #72235) posted at 3:56 AM on Tuesday, September 26th, 2023

Please tell me one cannot be forcibly appointed by a court to be a Guardian?

I don't think so, The person in need of a guardian should be represented by an "Ad Litem Attorney", appointed by the court. This attorney will only be representing that person. Do you know if this is who reached out?

Dday Sept 7 2019 doing well in R BH M 32 years

posts: 3450   ·   registered: Dec. 5th, 2019   ·   location: Texas DFW
id 8809413
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 Superesse (original poster member #60731) posted at 4:56 AM on Tuesday, September 26th, 2023

Thanks Tanner! I have been frantically trying to find out what I can learn online this evening, but of course, 99% of the results I get are about 'how to become a guardian!' Makes me feel even worse that I know I cannot deal with this, and fear our court might decide our "physical proximity and kinship equals eligibility." The last resort as I read is 'public guardianship' but that is very limited in this state with a long waiting list, so I worry the court may try to shove a lot of cases like this off onto "blood relatives," no matter the miserable history. This is what I cannot find out more about!

(And it doesn't help the daughter has not contacted us about her petition, if it is in fact originating from her. I know we hurt her feelings after we didn't volunteer to be first responders for her far-away Dad. I never wanted to draw her into any FOO garbage, so she probably has no clue why.)

But to answer the question you asked, I think this phone call may be from a local law firm that will act as GAL (impartial representative to the circuit court). From what I was told, the daughter is requesting to be Guardian. What that will likely entail, however, is a move to her state, which makes sense, but I cannot help wondering what will become of the aged, infirm caregiver spouse who really has nobody else here unless both of them relocate.

I really don't want to get involved in this mess, nor do I like the thought of throwing the court's decision process one way or the other, if the spouse and daughter are at odds, which I don't even know!

Just call and cancel?

posts: 2058   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8809418
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WhatsRight ( member #35417) posted at 10:17 PM on Tuesday, September 26th, 2023

It sounds to me like you have some level of curiosity and even concern about the situation, most especially for the "disabled" spouse.

What would you think about, before canceling the appointment all together, just asking the lawyer to tell you exactly what is happening so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to be involved in any capacity. And if they won’t tell you clearly and openly what’s happening, then that would be their answer.

I’m so sorry you have to be involved in this.

"Noone can make you feel inferior without your concent." Eleanor Roosevelt

I will not be vanquished. Rose Kennedy

posts: 8213   ·   registered: Apr. 23rd, 2012   ·   location: Southeast USA
id 8809492
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tushnurse ( member #21101) posted at 12:46 AM on Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

This definitely sounds like a "hotline" case. When the person is returned to a home where its obvious the support isn't enough. So the hospital social workers case managers home health people are all mandatory reporters.
So the first thing that happens is the state division of senior services (may be called something different depending on the state) where a "case worker" from the state is assigned to investigate the situation. The person is usually determined to be able to make their own decisions, which means they who they are where they are the month and president. In those situations we (case managers, totally different from a case worker) says we can't prevent people from making bad decisions. But we do hotline what we think may be an unsafe situation.

Anyway the state opens and a "case worker " goes out does interviews with the residents of the home and evaluates if its clean or unsafe bud riddled without running water heat/cooling etc. If deemed unsafe then they try to get resources they need to continue to be safe in their home. If that is not an option then seeking guardianship is the next step. You as a sibling can decline. They will go down the list and if they can't find a family member will assign guardianship through the state. Trust me if its this far into the mess you DO NOT want to be involved.
Like Nancy said....Just say no.

Me: FBSHim: FWSKids: 23 & 27 Married for 32 years now, was 16 at the time.D-Day Sept 26 2008R'd in about 2 years. Old Vet now.

posts: 20181   ·   registered: Oct. 1st, 2008   ·   location: St. Louis
id 8809519
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 Superesse (original poster member #60731) posted at 3:46 AM on Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

Thank you WhatsRight and Tushnurse!!

WR I do worry about the spouse, but I know the more I know of that mess, the sadder it will make me.

This is also deja vu for me, as I had a bad experience with the lawyer handling my father's estate after 100% of the proceeds of our father's home had been spent on this sibling's personal expenses in direct violation of our father's notarized Will. Long story I'll spare you, but it left me kinda leery about what gets said to "legally named parties" on a surprise phone call, saying they are phoning "just as a courtesy to inform me what's going on.." then not telling me any further info, KWIM? Made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I was hyperventilating for the rest of the day! (Maybe I should have insisted on hearing her out right then and there when she called, but as hcsv alludes to, my gut's been telling me it could be a trap of some kind to go in. That's why I'm stressing out so badly!

Glad to be told I cannot be coerced into appointment as a Guardian, Tushnurse, although I still wish I could find legalese spelling that out. So far I've had no luck.

I knew a home visit should happen after hospitalization; they should check on a discharged patient. The daughter is a licensed mental health professional, so she herself is a mandated reporter in her own state, I presume. Maybe she initiated the call to Social Services, just as I had once reported this same sibling anonymously to the same agency, at my sister's request, after our father complained he was being held as a virtual prisoner in his own home, not taken anywhere, even to free senior centers for some socializing and caregiver respite, and his money was being spent without his permission! Classic elder abuse, but nothing ever came of that, either; I guess the social work visitor felt his situation was adequate. So now, it seems to have come around full circle. I had to step away back then, after my POA over our father's care had been revoked at the urging of this same sibling. (I found that news out the same way as this latest episode: from a lawyer!)

I think if the daughter is petitioning for Guardianship freely on her own, it's a bit odd we haven't gotten so much as a text from her. So now, Tushnurse has me wondering: maybe the Social Service agency is putting pressure on the daughter to petition, but if she claims can't arrange regular visits from 1,000 miles away, they likely may expect I can be pressured, you see?

OR perhaps it's a classic tug-of-war between the overwhelmed spouse and the non-related daughter. I think if daughter gets appointed Guardian by the Court, sells her father's house - which is mortgaged to the hilt - and tells his spouse "tough luck," it woud just seem so cruel, yet you hear of many such cases in families.

I really don't want to help to kick this decision one direction or the other! Either way, I know I'll feel BAD...

Thanks for chewing this over with me, I feel better hearing your thoughts! ❤️❤️

posts: 2058   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8809530
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little turtle ( member #15584) posted at 1:46 PM on Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

The curious cat in me would have to attend the meeting and know what's going on. I know NC is no new hurts, but I haven't been able to follow that for myself! duh I unfortunately have a boatload of "hopium" as well. laugh I know it gets me in trouble.

Do what is best for you. ♥

Failure is success if we learn from it.

posts: 5606   ·   registered: Aug. 1st, 2007   ·   location: michigan
id 8809569
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The1stWife ( Guide #58832) posted at 6:06 PM on Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

If you are stressed over it, don’t visit with the attorney. Cancel the meeting and request no contact from that firm.

Staying out of it means staying out of it 100%. That means no one can force you to become a guardian of any adult.

The less you know the better in some cases.

And it sounds like that applies here too.

After 10 years you are not obligated to engage in this.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled. 10 years out from Dday. Reconciliation takes two committed people to be successful.

posts: 13945   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8809614
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tushnurse ( member #21101) posted at 7:22 PM on Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

^^^^^This what 1st Wife said^^^^^^^^^

And No you cannot he forced to be anyone's guardian.

[This message edited by tushnurse at 9:39 PM, Wednesday, September 27th]

Me: FBSHim: FWSKids: 23 & 27 Married for 32 years now, was 16 at the time.D-Day Sept 26 2008R'd in about 2 years. Old Vet now.

posts: 20181   ·   registered: Oct. 1st, 2008   ·   location: St. Louis
id 8809620
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 Superesse (original poster member #60731) posted at 8:39 PM on Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

Thanks 1stwife, I have been stressed out about this whole situation even though we finally got a chance to go on a little 2 day camping trip, and friends told me to "worry about it when I get back." I finally felt a little better this morning, walking along a beach wall with pounding surf and my puppy! Our older dog was showing the way into the surf and it was a rare break!

So Tushnurse, if I cannot be forced to accept Guardianship of a sibling, do you think the 50-year-old daughter also could not be coerced by the Court, or is the fact she is a daughter make it different? I did read there is a priority list they go down, as you said earlier, starting with the children. If this daughter likewise cannot be forced to Guardianship, then what the lawyer spokesperson said is probably honest (have my doubts) that this daughter does want to get Guardianship. If she succeeds, I think the spouse will not like it, but this is what I also want to avoid participating in. Family drama, hope my fears are wrong and they all work it out....without me!

Maybe I will call the lawyer's office tomorrow on the way back from this trip and say my plans changed...I try not to tell little white lies, but we are out of town....it's so nice here, I could stay....🙂

posts: 2058   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8809630
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tushnurse ( member #21101) posted at 9:47 PM on Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

No they cannot force anyone to anyone else's guardian. Now they may assume that family is the go to for concerns and in most situations regarding Healthcare if there is no DPOA or Healthcare directive the spouse gets first shot a making decisions if they are unable due to their own issues then it goes to the kids and they make the decisions unless its something unreasonable its generally not questioned.
But if you have a person that is deemed incompetent and no one to care for them this process starts and everyone can decline. Then they become a ward of the state and the state appoints a guardian. This is not a common thing but does happen.

Me: FBSHim: FWSKids: 23 & 27 Married for 32 years now, was 16 at the time.D-Day Sept 26 2008R'd in about 2 years. Old Vet now.

posts: 20181   ·   registered: Oct. 1st, 2008   ·   location: St. Louis
id 8809642
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 Superesse (original poster member #60731) posted at 12:40 AM on Thursday, September 28th, 2023

Again thank you, Tushnurse, you're always the rational voice in all things like this. Helping make it clearer in this situation that either: (a) spouse has had enough dealing with a physically incapacitated XXLT patient on top of inability to get to town to shop for groceries or pay bills, perhaps due simply to vehicle problems, and has asked daughter to seek Guardianship or (b) daughter has stepped up on her own without discussing it with either spouse or us, so she can take control away from the spouse. I hope it's (a) for the spouse's sake, but I bet it's (b).

Sadly, people, social workers and Courts, tend to give family members the benefit of the doubt when making these major decisions, and then later on, you hear elders suffer unforseen consequences due to the powers they signed away, just as my father found out at the end of his life.

I am going to take everyone's advice to heart and bow out. I don't want to officially go on record telling them we gave up long ago, as that becomes part of the record and would add needless hurt, but I'll have to give some reason why I can't come in, when the original version I heard was just giving me a "courtesy phone call." Maybe I just call the lawyer and say "Sorry, but could you just start over and tell me what you are obligated to tell me? I have the time now but we are out of town still." And then listen and be silent.

posts: 2058   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8809669
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gonnabe2016 ( member #34823) posted at 3:36 PM on Thursday, September 28th, 2023

Sounds like someone filed for guardianship. Whenever that happens all "interested parties" must be notified of the petition. I think I saw that the person at issue is your sibling, so you are an "interested party." It is strictly a notification measure to let you know what's happening in case you object to whoever petitioned being named guardian. Nothing you say will end up "on the record" unless you sign an affidavit or appear in court as a witness. Also, no one can be forced to become a guardian of another.
This situation sounds strictly procedural and not anything for you to stress over. Sorry to hear that it's stirred up all the old, yucky memories, revisiting that is never any fun.

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." - Sir Walter Scott

In my effort to be *concise*, I often come off as blunt and harsh. Sorry, don't mean to be offensive.

posts: 9241   ·   registered: Feb. 15th, 2012   ·   location: Midwest
id 8809723
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 Superesse (original poster member #60731) posted at 6:09 PM on Thursday, September 28th, 2023

gonnabe, thanks for saying that nothing should be put on record that I might say to the lawyer.

So it sounds like basically 2 options for me to respond with, neither of which feel good.

A. If I say I have no objection to the daughter being appointed guardian, it may end up meaning the spouse loses possession of the marital home she jointly owns (hopefully not). I would hate that, for her sake! Other than that possible consequence, it is probably for the best.

B. If I were to object to the daughter's appointment, it could be argued in Court that we (my H and I) would need to assist the handicapped spouse with the kind of nursing care I knew I was never qualified for, along with both of us being on constant emergency call basis for rides, physical assistance, etc. which we went through, back when this sibling and spouse insisted on keeping our father in home care, over my strong recommendations to get him the professional help he needed. That became 4 long years of increasing insanity for them as he deteriorated with cerebrovascular dementia. Yet they wanted control over his estate and expressed that it was all my fault I wouldn't go along with the😢

So thank you also for recognizing how this last chapter of my FOO (which fractured when I was in my teens, over 50 years ago) is hitting me so heavy and sad. Like with this news, it confirms that nothing I ever tried to do with them while also preserving my life from their needless chaos, ever seemed right to any of them since I refused to be the family's "rescuer." Major substance abusers all; just last Thanksgiving, we lost another sibling to liver failure and this sibling and spouse didn't visit in the hospital nor even post a free condolence note to their nieces and nephew) on his obituary webpage. I mean, seriously?

Thanks everybody, it helps me to get this out and get so much counsel from the wise SI community!

posts: 2058   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8809760
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 Superesse (original poster member #60731) posted at 9:14 PM on Thursday, September 28th, 2023

So I said a prayer, put the phone on speaker for my H to witness, and called the attorney back. I said I "had an appointment for tomorrow but we are still on the road but that I have time to finish the call now." The receptionist asked "What did you wish to speak to the attorney about?"

Y'all, had to think quick, and said "I don't need to speak with her, she had something she wanted to speak to me about." (red flag alert #2...trying to get me to "talk to them." Uh HUH...BTDT.) Receptionist puts me on hold.

I was not surprised when she comes back and says the lawyer's "tied up with another client right now, but you can come in next week or whenever you are in town...You don't need an appointment to come in..." (That's nice to know...what paperwork do they want me to sign, is my thought.)

I replied "I would like to go ahead and complete that call she placed to me on Monday; I don't think it should take very long." And I gave her my H's phone number, as it was what I was using, and we shall wait and see. I bet we don't hear back today.

And once again, this doesn't feel like they are just going down the "interested parties" list to inform as I doubt they're trying this hard to get any of my out-of-town nieces or nephews to come to their office, just me. I think it's because we are the closest geographically....or who knows.

hcvs this must be what you meant about having to repeat things to a lawyer several times?

posts: 2058   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8809794
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