Guardianship and Your Loved One in Hospice

It’s important that a person’s wishes regarding their medical care and financial decisions are respected at all times. However, this can become a problem when they are no longer able to competently advocate for themselves. In these cases, a guardianship may be necessary. Here’s what this means, from the team at our hospice in South Jersey.

What is Guardianship? 

If your loved one in hospice is at an advanced stage of decline and can no longer be declared legally competent to make healthcare and financial decisions for themselves, they need a legal guardian to protect their interests. This is known as guardianship. Duties that a guardian would perform include:

  • Signing consent on medical treatments or therapies
  • Making end-of-life care decisions
  • Paying bills from the patient’s accounts
  • Budgeting for care needs and other expenses
  • Giving consent to access medical, personal or financial information
  • Managing the financial aspects of their estate

How Can I Set Up Guardianship for My Loved One? 

It is important to establish exactly what legal estate planning documentation your loved one already has. If they have already set up a designated Power of Attorney for medical and financial needs, then those named individuals will be able to take on these responsibilities and there’s no need to go through the guardianship process. It is also important to check if they have a Living Will (also known as an Advance Directive), as this will give guidance on their wishes regarding end-of-life care.

If no such legal documents exist, you will have to follow your state’s process of setting up a guardianship. This usually includes:

Filing a petition for guardianship or conservatorship – This petition will outline why guardianship is needed. Note that the state will contact the individual as well as relatives in the event that this petition is filed.

Investigating the need for guardianship An investigator will then be sent by the court to confirm that there is a case for guardianship. They can also determine if a less restrictive alternative is more appropriate.

Attending the court hearing – A judge will evaluate your petition as well as listen to any statements made by concerned parties, including members of your loved one’s medical team. The judge will then make a decision on whether or not guardianship should be granted.

This process can take several months unless there is an especially urgent need. For these reasons, it is especially important for individuals in hospice to take the time to get their legal affairs in order before the need for guardianship arises.

Compassionate Care for Seniors and Their Families at Our Hospice in South Jersey 

At The Shores, a part of the well-known United Methodist Communities non-profit organization in New Jersey, we offer compassionate, professional hospice care in the Jersey Shore area called Bridges. In this program, we focus on creating a nurturing and comforting environment for patients and their loved ones through customized care programs and compassionate support. 

To find out more about our hospice in Cape May County, please visit our website at https://theshores.umcommunities.org/hospice-care-nj/ or contact us today and organize your visit.