If you find yourself facing the reality that someone needs to step in and make health care decision for your parent, it will me an emotionally trying experience. What happens if you and your siblings cannot agree on who should make those decisions? What options are available to settle your dispute? A Grand Forks elder law attorney at German Law discusses what happens when siblings cannot agree on medical treatment for a parent.
Experiencing the Role Reversal
As your parents age, there may come a point when you begin to realize a subtle role reversal is occurring. The parent who once took care of you now needs you to take care of him/her. You may reach a point where it becomes necessary for you to make all health care decisions for your parent. While you are more than willing to take over your parent’s care, your siblings do not agree with some of the decisions you are making regarding your parent’s medical care and treatment. Where does that leave you?
Is There an Advance Directive in Place?
The best-case scenario would be for your parent to have executed the appropriate advance directive prior to reaching the point of incapacity. In the State of North Dakota, a legal document called an “Power of Attorney for Health Care” allows someone to appoint an Agent to make decisions for them in the event they are unable to make those decision because of incapacity at some point in the future. An Agent has the authority to do things such as consent, refuse to consent, or withdraw consent to medical treatment on behalf of the person executing the document. Your first step, therefore, when a dispute arises regarding decision making for your parent should be to determine if your parent executed a Power of Attorney for Health Care. Most people keep a copy with their estate planning documents. You might also ask your parent’s estate planning attorney and/or his/her treating physician.
Alternatives to Litigation
If it appears that your parent did not execute a Power of Attorney for Health Care, there are some options that may help if your sibling is willing to participate. You might try counseling with a therapist who specializes in elder issues. You might also all agree to hire a geriatric care manager. This is often a social worker or nurse and who specialize in assessing a senior’s needs and coordinating the care and resources necessary to help them.
Petitioning for Guardianship
If all else fails, you may need to consider becoming your parent’s legal guardian. If he/she is truly unable to make his/her own decisions, then someone else needs to have the legal authority to do so. Petitioning to become your parent’s legal guardian will give you that authority. Because guardianship is the most restrictive option, and because your siblings have the right to object to your appointment, you should consider guardianship an avenue of last resort. You should also consult with an experienced elder law attorney before making the decision to seek guardianship over your parent.
Contact a Grand Forks Elder Law Attorney
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about elder law, contactthe Grand Forks elder law attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.