If you have begun to notice that your elderly parent isn’t acting the way that they normally do or if they start to behave in ways that aren’t healthy or are nonsensical, it is essential to take action to get them the appropriate help. Even if it is difficult to talk about what to do, the consequences can be dire if you don’t and an accident happens.

If you worry that your aging parent isn’t capable of caring for themselves or their finances, then it might be necessary for you to have them declared incompetent for their safety.

It is always best to approach your parent with love and concern. If you explain to them the things that you have been seeing and ask them to consider that maybe they need some additional help, the worst they can say is no. 

But, if they do say no or refuse to allow you to seek help on their behalf, then it might be necessary to take legal steps to make sure that they can’t do themselves either physical or financial harm.

Declaring someone incompetent is not pretty, but it might be necessary

In the court of law, proving competence is viewed in the same way as innocence; everyone is presumed competent unless they are determined to be otherwise. Many factors go into deciding whether someone is mentally sound or incompetent. If you believe that your loved one is incapable of making decisions, executing a property deed, or executing a will, it might be possible for you to prove so in a court of law.

To declare someone mentally incompetent, you must show that they are incapable of participating in their legal proceedings. Being incompetent means that you are unable to make sound decisions that are in your best interest.

The steps to declaring someone incompetent

So how to prove someone is incompetent? The first step to declaring someone incompetent is that you have to file a form with the court to declare a person incompetent that will go before the Probate Court who holds jurisdiction over the location where your loved one resides. In the form, you will ask that the court appoint your elderly parent a “guardian” (someone who is responsible for making decisions for them).

After you file the petition, the guardianship lawyer asks for the aid of a mental health professional to evaluate your aging parent to determine if they believe they are competent to take care of themselves. You will also have to gather supporting documents and evidence that will further your assertion that your loved one is incapable of making a decision.

There has to be a psychological evaluation of the person who is going before the court. If the person who the petition has been filed against refuses to submit to a mental examination, the court will have to request one by filing a motion in probate court to have the person go through an evaluation.

Once the psychological exam is complete, the results will be submitted to the Probate Court who will then read the results and determine if the person who is the subject of the petition is competent or not according to the evaluation. 

If the Probate Court finds sufficient cause, they will appoint a suitable guardian. At that point, the person who initiated the petition might have to post bond. The best case scenario is that they will be capable of getting the support of a financial insurance company to do so. 

If you have a difficult time finding an insurance company to help your financial plight, your guardianship lawyer should be able to help. If challenges arise due to your credit history or any criminal activity, you may need to get a lawyer involved. 

Since your parent is an adult, you do have to contact adult protective services to oversee the situation. They will investigate to see what services you are eligible for once your loved one is declared incompetent.

Having the roles change so that someone in your life whom you used to depend on needing to rely on you can be overwhelming and stressful. If you believe that your aging parent is no longer able to maintain their independence safely, then it is essential that you take matters into your own hands to protect them physically and financially by taking steps to have them declared incompetent.