Guardianship Explained

Times Beacon Record:  The facts: My aunt is widowed and living alone. Lately it has become clear that she cannot continue to live independently and cannot handle her finances. She is confused and does not appear to be eating well or bathing regularly. Unfortunately, there are no family members in a position to take care of my aunt. She does not have a will, power of attorney or health care proxy.

The question: Should I begin a guardianship proceeding to have someone appointed to make decisions about my aunt's living situation and her assets? What happens if there are no family members or friends who can serve as guardian?

The answer: Although every situation is different, beginning a guardianship proceeding is generally appropriate when it appears that a person is likely to suffer harm because she cannot provide for her personal and property needs and cannot understand and appreciate the nature of her functional limitations. From your description of your aunt's condition, I believe it would be appropriate to commence a guardianship proceeding.