As Guardian or Agent, Can I Control Who Visits My Parent?
If you are the agent under a Power of Attorney or Healthcare Power of Attorney for a parent, you know that your parent has entrusted you with making important financial and medical decisions for them in the event that they become incapacitated. If you parent did not sign these documents before they became incapacitated, you may have been named their legal guardian. While it is an honor to be named to these roles, many people unfortunately find out that this situation can create conflict with other family members who feel they know what is best for their parent or loved one. Family members often argue about issues such as financial decisions, where and how their loved once should receive care, and a multitude of other matters.
As agent or guardian, the final decision on these difficult matters is yours. However, does that mean you can prevent other family members or even friends from visiting your parent if you feel that is what is best? The answer is complicated. As agent under a medical directive, you are able to make personal decisions on behalf of your parent only after they are incapacitated. Financial powers of attorney allow you to make financial decisions for your parent. As long as your parent has capacity, the decision as to who visits and with whom they are socializing is up to them. Once they have lost capacity, the general consensus is that the agent should facilitate and attempt to maintain relationships that their parent had prior to becoming incapacitated. Of course, if there is a dangerous situation or a threat of physical harm or abuse, then the agent should pursue a restraining order or other legal avenues in order to protect their loved one. However, a family feud or arguments about money or care plans should not serve as a reason for preventing a loved one from visiting with friends and family.
For guardians, the law is clear in Virginia. Virginia Code Section 64.2-2019(E) states that “a guardian shall not unreasonably restrict an incapacitated person’s ability to communicate with, visit, or interact with other persons with whom the incapacitated person has an established relationship.” If there is an issue with a friend or family member prior to the final guardianship order being entered by the court, the guardian and the attorney representing the guardian should bring this to the attention of the court so that the issue can be addressed in the final order granting guardianship. Again, simple family feuds or disagreements should not mean that friends and family are not permitted to visit someone who is incapacitated.
Acting as agent or guardian for a parent is an important responsibility, and it can be made more difficult when emotions and family conflicts come into the picture. If your parent wants to visit with someone who is not a danger but with whom you do not get along, it may be best to arrange for someone else to be present during the visit. If there is a chance for dangerous behavior or abuse, you should of course pursue legal action restrict those people from visiting your loved one. It is important to remember that your primary duty is to your parent. If you are an agent or a guardian, seek your attorney’s advice about how best to protect your parent’s interests.
Hook Law Center: Jolene, what can you tell us about the missing cat who used her family’s home doorbell camera to get home?
Jolene: This is such a heartwarming story. Lily the cat disappeared after moving to a new home. After she had been missing for four days, her owner was surprised by a notification from their Ring doorbell. The image on the camera was Lily’s face. Lily had been clever enough to jump high enough to activate the doorbell camera and started meowing in a way that sounded like she was calling for “mom.” And it’s not just a coincidence – Lily has used the doorbell camera since her return to be let back inside of the house!
Emily A. Martin
757-399-7506 | 252-722-2890
Emily A. Martin is a Shareholder of Hook Law practicing in the areas of elder law, estate and trust administration, estate planning, asset protection planning, litigation and dispute resolution, guardianship and conservatorship, long-term care planning, special needs planning and financial planning. To date, Ms. Martin has overseen over 100 guardianship and conservatorship matters. In addition to being admitted to the Virginia State Bar and North Carolina State Bar, she is licensed to practice before the Department of Veterans Affairs. Ms. Martin is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. She is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington and Regent University School of Law. Prior to joining the firm in 2018, Emily worked as an estate planning and elder law attorney in Virginia Beach for several years.
- Elder Law
- Estate & Trust Administration
- Estate Planning
- Asset Protection Planning
- Guardianship & Conservatorship
- Long-Term Care Planning
- Special Needs Planning
- Financial Planning