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Dealing with difficulties as a fiduciary

If someone has appointed you as a guardian or power of attorney should he or she become incapacitated or need that level of assistance in the future, you might find that it is more difficult than you imagined to transition into such a relationship. Even if someone has previously admitted he or she needs help, he or she might not feel that way on every given day, and it's natural for adults to fight for their independence in such situations. If you are a caregiver for someone who seems not to want help, there are some things you can do to ease the situation.

First, know that change is hard for everyone. This new relationship is difficult for you, but it might be even more difficult for the person who is giving up independence. Ease into things slowly and make sure you communicate everything in a way that is appropriate for the other person's capacity at that time.

Depending on the mental and physical state of the other person, try introducing concepts or information at a later time when things don't go well at first. In just a few minutes, the person might react differently to a piece of information.

When acting as a guardian or power of attorney, know that you are being trusted with a very serious responsibility. As a fiduciary, you have an obligation to make decisions that benefit the other person. When possible, involve the other person in the decisions and always try to offer solutions that the other person would be most comfortable with. Don't make decisions simply because they are convenient for you.

Acting in such a role can be stressful and draining. Working with a legal professional to understand your obligations and fulfill them in the best way possible can reduce some of the worry and stress from the situation.

Source: National Caregivers Library, "When Your Loved One Refused Help," accessed Jan. 29, 2016

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