Our mother who is running our family business is already very old. She is already suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Because of this, she has frequent bouts of mental lapses as she sometimes can’t even recall all of her children’s names nor remember usual daily tasks. This greatly affects the management of our business since a lot of our important transactions are either overlooked or forgotten which badly affects her business dealings. We fear that she is also prone to be abused in her transactions since people can just have her sign documents without her understanding or even recalling them. What can we do to legally protect her and her properties considering her mental condition? We hope for your advice.
Bearing in mind the current condition of your mother, you may consider the appointment of a judicial guardian who will look over your mother and her properties. Basically, a judicial guardian is a competent person appointed by the court over the person and/or properties of either a minor or an incompetent ward to represent the latter in all of her civil acts and transactions (Florenz D. Regalado, Remedial law Compendium Volume II, 10th Revised Edition, 2004).
It appears from your narration that your mother qualifies as an incompetent under the definition of the law on guardianship, which defines an incompetent as:
“Sec. 2. Meaning of word “incompetent.” – Under this rule, the word “incompetent” includes persons suffering the penalty of civil interdiction or who are hospitalized lepers, prodigals, deaf and dumb who are unable to read and write, those who are of unsound mind, even though they have lucid intervals, and persons not being of unsound mind, but by reason of age, disease, weak mind, and other similar causes, cannot, without outside aid, take care of themselves and manage their property, becoming thereby an easy prey for deceit and exploitation.” (Rule 92, Revised Rules of Court).
As your mother appears to legally qualify as an incompetent, you may file a petition before the court to be appointed as her guardian. If you do not wish to be your mother’s guardian, your other siblings or relatives may also apply for the appointment as guardian to your mother. The law provides as to who else may file a petition for guardian, to wit:
“Sec. 1. Who may petition for appointment of guardian for resident. – Any relative, friend, or other person on behalf of a resident minor or incompetent who has no parent or lawful guardian, or the minor himself if fourteen years of age or over, may petition the court having jurisdiction for the appointment of a general guardian for the person or estate, or both, of such minor or incompetent. xxx” (Rule 93, Revised Rules of Court).
The appointed judicial guardian acts as the administrator and manager of the properties and affairs of the ward. The general duties and responsibilities of a guardian are likewise laid down under Rule 96 of the Revised Rules of Court which includes among others: payment of the ward’s debts, settling of her accounts, collecting debts, rendering an inventory of the ward’s estate, appearing in court in actions for the ward, and other duties specified by the said rule.
By having a judicial guardian appointed for your mother, her person and her properties can be protected and administered properly to avoid further unnecessary losses to her estate.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
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