What options do you have when one of your siblings is isolating one, or both, of your parents? Well, you have two options. The first option is to file for conservatorship. And the second option is to do nothing. And, sometimes, that second option is the best option to take.
Filing a Conservatorship Petition
Let’s begin with the first option. If you truly believe your parents are in a position where they’re being abused by one of your siblings, and that sibling is precluding you and your other siblings from seeing them, filing a petition for conservatorship is a good tool. A conservatorship filing will allow the court to step in, appoint an independent lawyer for the elder and determine whether the elder needs a conservator. Those are the benefits that can come from filing a conservatorship petition.
The downside to filing for conservatorship is your parents may be confused by what you’re doing. The sibling who is acting badly may turn your parent against you by suggesting to your parent that you are trying to control their money, you’re trying to control their living situation, you’re trying to take their ability to make decisions away. And if the parent is already confused to some degree due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the parent might turn against you quite quickly. So, even though you’re trying to do something good by filing for conservatorship, it ends up hurting you. Mom or dad end up disinheriting you completely because they believe you’re attacking them.
That’s why you should consider doing nothing with the courts. If you have any access to your parent at all, you should take that access. You should continue to see your parent. You should continue to send cards and notes to your parent. You should continue to try to communicate with phone calls and document all of this. But don’t go to your parent and start talking to them about everything that your bad sibling is doing to them. Don’t go to your parent and start talking about their Trust and Will because you then will look like you’re a greedy heir even though you aren’t. You’re just simply trying to protect mom or dad from the bad sibling.
So give mom or dad the best sunset years or months that they have left on the planet. Treat them well. Love them. Care for them. Document things for yourself and then, when they pass away, you’ll be in a position where you can file something against the wrong-doing sibling. Chances are, you’re going to be able to hold them accountable for the things they did to harm your Mom or Dad during their lifetime. You do have to be patient to take this second approach, and this is a hard choice. Choosing to standby and do nothing when you see this happening can be terrible. However, it may be the better option than filing for a conservatorship, which ends up hurting you in the long run.