When Help Is Really A Hostile Takeover

There is a constantly shifting line between helping and hostile takeover.

Texas law recognizes that an elderly individual has the right to be free of interference, coercion, discrimination and reprisal in exercising all of his or her civil rights. This includes the right to make decisions over personal affairs, care benefits and services, and the right to be free from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Sometimes adult children get so protective or impatient that they forget that a parent has the right to be left alone, to make his own healthcare decisions, and to decide where and with whom he will live. Often it isn’t convenient or possible to work around an aging parent’s wishes.

It is a difficult line that should be crossed only when a parent loses his executive decision-making capacity and is at risk of suffering abuse, neglect (that includes self-neglect) or exploitation. The line isn’t strictly defined by age, health or wealth. It shouldn’t be crossed solely for the convenience of the adult child.

On the other side of the divide, the parent should spend some time planning so he can retain his autonomy. He should consult with an attorney to have properly drafted powers of attorney, a declaration of guardian, a HIPAA consent and a will. He should have back-up plans in case he has health issues and can no longer live alone. He should write down logins and passwords. If he is sick or depressed, he should seek treatment and not wait for an emergency.

It is, after all, his life to live.

Virginia Hammerle is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and an Accredited Estate Planner by the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils. She can be contacted at legaltalk@hammerle.com. The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice. ©2013 Virginia Hammerle