“It’s time to put her under guardianship!” » This is the cry from the heart of Patrick, 59, established in the Paris region, about his 86-year-old mother who suffers from the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. “She is a widow and lives in Brittany, with the help of a carer who comes by regularly, but she forgets her appointments, her bills and does a lot of nonsense with her bank account. »
Patrick’s sister, who lives nearby, has offered to take care of it… but it’s not the great understanding – nor the confidence – in the siblings. And for now, the question of guardianship divides them. It has not even been discussed with the main interested party yet. “I’m afraid it will hurt him…”, recognizes Patrick, who blames himself for thinking about this end and not doing more for his mother. He’s still waiting to get started. How do you know if this is the right solution, both for the vulnerable person and for the family?
Before guardianship, lighter solutions to be preferred
About 800,000 adults currently benefit from legal protection in France, mainly due to a loss of autonomy with age or a disability. “Guardianship is the most well-known measure and allows a third party to act in place of the person in the areas defined by the judge (asset management, supervision of the person for his health, his travels, etc.)”explains Gérard Amable, jurist of the association of curators of Lille (1).
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“There is also curatorship, where the third party acts with the beneficiary; as well as family empowerment giving more power with fewer administrative constraints, reserved for a close relative in a peaceful context., adds the expert. But it’s not uncommon for one of these perspectives to rekindle conflict, as with Patrick. “My sister has always asked for financial aid from my mother and now wants to interfere in her accounts. I said no and it upset her! »
Too bad, because everything is easier when you get along. Well before implementing these very restrictive measures, there are other lighter solutions to be preferred according to the lawyer, such as the provisions resulting from the marriage (a spouse can act alone, on behalf of the couple, in terms of household expenses, by example). We must also think of the simple power of attorney to use the various accounts and passbooks. “As long as possible, it is better to stick to these facilities, even if it means being accompanied and advised in times of doubt by turning to patient associations, or a lawyer in order to fully understand the rights of each and anticipate future steps”recommends Hélène Rossinot, public health doctor (2).
An obstacle course
And if you feel really exhausted, overwhelmed by the administrative and medical aspects as a caregiver, or if the person’s condition has deteriorated too much, that you definitely don’t get along in the family on the measures to be taken, it is time to think about legal protection. “It can be a relief for all, assures Doctor Rossinot. Provided you have managed to dialogue between relatives and especially with your parent to integrate it into this process. He must not feel that he is the subject of disputes in his moments of lucidity. It’s too hard ! And the more he adheres to the device, the less the entourage feels guilty. »
Once the decision is made, the obstacle course begins. It is first necessary to seek a doctor registered on a list drawn up by the public prosecutor, and authorized to assess the state of health of the parent in difficulty (3). Cost of the process: €160 excluding tax, not reimbursed. The certificate in a sealed envelope must then be sent to the court of law, with a Cerfa form and numerous documents (4). It is up to the judge to decide, to opt for guardianship, curatorship or family empowerment, and to appoint a tutor or curator (professional or family), or even to decide nothing if he considers that it is not necessary .
Be careful before accepting this charge, the follow-up is time-consuming. “This free procedure takes several months and must be renewed every 5 years when protection is granted”, warns Gérard Amable. So you have to want it for the good of all… and hang on.