Families face many legal decisions and considerations as a loved one ages.
Primary considerations include wills, power of attorney and health care directives. Find helpful information on these topics and more at LawHelpMN, a website dedicated to helping Minnesotans solve legal problems.
Guardianship also takes on new meaning near the end of life. Read more about common guardianship scenarios below.
Families who have been appointed as health care agents (or guardians who have been given power to make medical decisions) have the authority to consent to hospice services. However, seeking guardianship as death draws near is too late.
A guardian's authority ends when the person dies. Because securing guardianship can take weeks or even months, seeking guardianship only to make decisions about hospice may not be the best use of time. Seeking emergency guardianship isn't likely to be helpful, either, since consenting to hospice services isn't usually considered an emergency.
If your family member could benefit from hospice services but the hospice provider requires guardian consent, talk to your family member's primary care doctor about comfort care. Rather than hospitalization or aggressive treatment, comfort care focuses on symptom control, pain relief and quality of life.
Your ability to make decisions for your family member ends at the person's death. You'll want to work with a funeral provider and the entity that manages your family member's money to establish a prepaid funeral plan that complies with Medical Assistance or waiver rules for exempt assets.
When your family member dies, you'll need to report the death to your family member's case manager, service providers and any payors, such as the Social Security Administration. You'll also need to submit a death certificate to the judge who appointed you as guardian. This will begin the process of terminating the guardianship.