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Providing for your loved ones | Guardianship of elders who need help later in life

Providing for elders is something that is only ever mentioned in platitudes. “Who will look after me when I’m old” is a question, but often hypothetical and rarely with any greater detail on what “looking after” means. One aspect of looking after our elders that is rarely addressed is the idea of guardianship of elders. You might have heard similar ideas like Power of Attorney and Intervention Orders, so you might have a general idea of guardianship. There are differences that are defined by circumstance, and all are helpful, but knowing which one to go for is rarely common knowledge. Take a look at our breakdown of Guardianship to understand what you need.

When do you need guardianship of elders?

A Guardianship is assigned in order for a trusted individual to be granted powers over the life of another. This can include discussing matters with doctors and making welfare decisions, financial decisions like handling bank accounts and benefits, and other instances where the adult isn’t able to make a decision for themselves.

Crucially, guardianship is something you need when power of attorney is no longer an option. This is usually because there hasn’t been enough time to get one in place before the subject’s condition sets in.

Additionally, there is the option of an Intervention Order, which will allow you to handle one situation for the subject rather than a list of powers. For example, you would gain an Intervention Order if you want to sell their home or make a welfare decision on behalf of the adult.

You might need a guardianship of elders for a variety of reasons, mainly medical, including Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other conditions that might make the subject unable to carry out decisions for themselves. There are currently around 900,000 people with dementia in the UK, according to the Alzheimer’s Society. It affects 1 in 14 people over the age of 65, which means guardianship of your elders is something that is likely to be needed at some point.

How do you get guardianship of elders?

It’s important to note that it’s a lengthy process to gain guardianship, however, it is open to anyone who takes an interest in the adult. You won’t be blocked for not being family, for instance. Anyone who is a relative, friend, professional or even the local authority can be assigned as a guardian.

We at MM Legal can help with gaining guardianship of elders if needed. We can handle not only power of attorney and estate planning but also offer aid in applying for guardianship. This service is covered by the Scottish Legal Aid Board and with our team of experts, you should get through the process with as little stress as possible.

What will you need to gain guardianship of elders?

There are a few things that will be necessary to be granted guardianship of elders. First, two different doctor’s letters will be needed to attest that the patient, your elderly adult, is no longer in a condition to make decisions for themselves medically. There might also be a medical exam necessary for this.

If you are considering financial guardianship, you will also need to gain a report on your suitability as a financial guardian. An application for guardianship will then be needed, which MM Legal can help with, and a court hearing will be allocated to make a decision on your guardianship.

Although there is no set timeline for gaining guardianship, it is a long process. Typically, an application to obtain a guardianship order will take around 4-6 months, but in urgent cases, you can apply for an interim order.


Seeking guardianship for elders is a situation that no one wants to be in, and it can be a stressful situation too. Our experts at MM Legal can ensure that the process to apply for guardianship is as smooth as possible so you only need to worry about looking after your elder.