Do I need a guardianship or a health care proxy to help make medical decisions if my spouse, parent, or grandparent is diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s?
The short answer is yes, but do not panic.

There are several possible courses of action that you can take if your loved one is diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s. It is important to first find out if your loved one has executed a health care proxy. A health care proxy is an estate planning document that allows your loved one to formally nominate a person to make health care decisions for them if your loved one is deemed incapacitated by a doctor. If they have executed one, upon a doctor determining that your loved one cannot make health care decisions for themselves, the named individual in that health care proxy will then be in charge of making medical decisions on behalf of your loved one. If your loved one has not executed a health care proxy nominating a health care agent, and has not been deemed incapable of making medical decisions, you should discuss with them who they will want to make medical decisions on their behalf. It is important that you move with great haste and have your loved one execute a health care proxy as their mental capacity can quickly change.

If your loved one has already been deemed incapacitated hope is not lost, but the process will take some additional time. You will have to petition the court to have a guardian appointed. A guardian is an individual officially appointed by the court to make health care decisions on the behalf of your loved one. You can seek to have yourself, another family member, or a […]