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If I Become My Mom's Guardian and Let Her Remain at Home, Am I Responsible for Her Actions?

By: Elder Law Answers

Elder Law Associates Newsletter dated April 27, 2017

I am considering guardianship for my 87-year-old mom, who has dementia. She lives alone but has been advised by her doctor many times that she should not be alone. She refuses any help from "home health nursing agencies" and she will not consider moving out of her house. If I become her guardian, will I be held responsible for anything that might happen to her if I allow her to continue living alone for a while longer?
Yes and no. You are responsible, but the question is what does that mean? If you take reasonable steps to try to figure out what is best for your mother –- talking with her, with her physician, and with local elder care professionals –- and then make a decision to let her stay at home, and something goes wrong, you will not be at fault (unless, of course, they are all unanimous that your mother cannot stay home). And then, what is the penalty, if you are found not to have acted with reasonable care? It’s that you would be removed as guardian. You know your mother best, and we would recommend that you use your best judgment after consulting with appropriate professionals.