It can be incredibly difficult to care for a loved one with Dementia/Alzheimers or a disease that has rendered them unable to care for themselves. This is compounded when there is a large amount of debt tied to your loved one. Whether it is medical debt or something else, you may be wondering if it is possible to file for bankruptcy on their behalf. The short answer is: it depends on your authority over your loved one’s estate. So, what options do you have?

Power of Attorney

A standard power of attorney agreement is typically not enough to sign a bankruptcy petition for someone else. You will need to complete a power of attorney agreement that has bankruptcy specific language included. If the person you are taking care of is unable to sign the bankruptcy specific power of attorney, it is not likely that you will be able to file. Instead, you should request to be appointed as guardian of the family member through the court. Please check your state guidelines and consult your attorney for more details.

Order of Guardianship

This process may be different depending on the state in which you reside. However, for California, you must file papers with the court, complete a number of steps, and attend a court hearing. This can be done with or without an attorney. However, the process is detailed and time consuming. We recommend consulting an attorney to be sure that you complete the forms correctly. You will also need to provide notice to all relatives. Keep in mind that this process is generally done for children, so speak with your attorney about how the process differs for adults.


In order to become a conservator of another person “found by a judge or a jury to be unable to manage his or her own affairs” by the probate court. To begin the process, you must file a petition with the probate court asking to be appointed as a conservator. There are different types of conservatorships and being appointed as one does not give you the power of the other. Include in your petition if you wish to be conservator of both the person and estate, if that is your goal. The appropriate forms can be obtained from the probate court directly or online.

Your petition will be reviewed by the court after filing. It will be decided whether a conservatorship is necessary and whether you are the appropriate person. If you are appointed, you will receive the letters of conservatorship. For more information, check with your local probate court or consult your attorney

Need More Information?

We recommend that you speak in detail with your local probate court. If you have any questions, we are here to help. At the Law Office of Daniela Romero, we believe in relationships that are based on trust. Before we work together, we would like to get to know you and we would like you to get to know us. We want you to be sure that we are the perfect fit for you. This will allow you to be completely comfortable sharing intimate and difficult details of your case, so we can offer you representation to the fullest extent of the law. Call us today to set up a free consultation.