Alternatives to Guardianship in Massachusetts
Massachusetts adults who are unable to make decisions about their own medical care, finances, and other essential matters may need a legal guardian. However, guardianship is a highly restrictive option that may excessively limit the incapacitated person’s rights and freedoms.
Fortunately, guardianship is not the only possibility for an incapacitated person or their family members in Massachusetts. Jordan & White, estate planning attorneys, can help you explore alternatives to guardianship. Call us at (978) 744-2811 to find out how your family can avoid guardianship serving the North Shore of Massachusetts.
Who Needs Guardianship in Massachusetts?
A Massachusetts probate court may appoint a guardian for an adult (known as a ward) who cannot handle their own financial decisions, healthcare, or everyday matters because of a physical or mental health condition that causes incapacity.
Typically, a legal guardian will:
- Make decisions about the ward’s medical treatment
- Handle the ward’s finances, including Medicare and SSI benefits
- Decide on housing arrangements for the ward
Sometimes, full guardianship is inevitable, but this legal option takes all control out of an incapacitated person’s hands. Adults with lighter impairments may only need some help with medical and financial decisions. Additionally, the court-appointed guardian may not be the person the ward would have chosen to represent their interests.
Alternatives to Guardianship
The list of alternatives to guardianship in Massachusetts includes:
- Conservatorship. A conservator’s duties typically focus on handling the incapacitated person’s finances.
- Durable power of attorney (POA). A power of attorney is a legal document that allows its creator to appoint a trusted agent who will make decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated.
- Living will. A living will, also known as an advanced medical directive, states the principal’s wishes regarding medical care in end-of-life conditions.
- Medical proxy. A medical proxy can make decisions about medical care on the principal’s behalf, usually on a short-term basis in cases of temporary incapacity.
- Representative payee. A representative payee is a Social Security Administration term that identifies a person whom the principal appoints to collect and manage SS benefits.
Planning Ahead to Avoid Guardianship
The key to avoiding guardianship is planning. To create documents like powers of attorney and living wills, the principal must have full use of their mental capacity.
Because no one knows when they may lose their legal capacity to make decisions, it’s important to include the relevant provisions in your estate plan. Alternatives to guardianship can protect your rights and spare your family the need to initiate guardianship proceedings.
Jordan & White, LLC: Helping You Prepare for the Future on the North Shore of Massachusetts
The possibility of future incapacity is disquieting. If the worst happens, you need to have a legal safety net that ensures you get the best possible care and support on your own terms.
At Jordan & White, LLC, we help Massachusetts families prepare for the future with comprehensive estate planning. We use legal tools like durable POA, advanced directives, and other documents to bypass guardianship and protect the interests of incapacitated persons in Massachusetts.
Call (978) 744-2811 or fill out our contact form to learn more about alternatives to guardianship in Massachusetts.