As family members age, even simple life tasks may become too difficult to manage independently. When, and if, this occurs, you may want to appoint a guardian to officially ta Appointing a guardian, or a “guardianship,” is a typical legal process that gives the guardian permission and authority to make specific decisions for the incapacitated adult.

The law defines an incapacitated person as someone with a clinically diagnosed condition that prevents them from making many important or even day-to-day decisions. These decisions commonly pertain to their health, safety, finances, or other vital life matters.

A legally appointed guardian could be a friend, family member, or any person the Massachusetts court determines will act in the older adult’s best interest.
For example, as an elder loved one’s legal guardian, you could make decisions and exercise complete control over your elder loved one’s finances and property. You could perform these decision-making functions over an elderly relative, disabled person, or even a friend who can no longer decide independently.

You begin to see, though, that deciding on a proper guardian may be daunting, as this person commonly has full authority over your elder loved one’s life. So, you and the Massachusetts courts must be sure that the guardian will always put your loved one’s interests above their own. This decision is critical to your elder loved one’s finances, health care, and more, so getting the “right” person for the job is sometimes not as easy as it may appear.

Also, vital to note that the Massachusetts court can always step in to protect the incapacitated person and appoint a guardian for your loved one (or Ward).

Suppose you are considering a guardian for an incapacitated person. In that case, the wise thing to do is to consult with your local Worcester estate planning lawyer who is familiar with elder law. They will analyze your situation, detail what must be managed, and help you get a person who will do an effective and empathetic job as a guardian. Your lawyer will know how to deal with the court so that you are comfortable with the guardian and the court’s final ruling.

Who Is Considered an “Incapacitated” Person in Massachusetts?

Suppose you have an elderly relative that is having more and more difficulty dealing with their life. In that case, they may be defined as incapacitated if they have been clinically diagnosed with a medical condition that results in their inability to receive and evaluate information or make or communicate decisions.

For example, adults with Alzheimer’s cannot make effective decisions about their day-to-day personal care, health, or safety. During your legal Guardianship court proceeding, if the court determines an adult is an incapacitated person, then guardianship may be appropriate. The Massachusetts court then could appoint a guardian to advocate for your loved one’s rights and make personal and medical decisions.

Accordingly, any qualified adult may be appointed guardian, such as you (as a relative), a friend, or a professional or appointed agency.
The Massachusetts court, though, will commonly try to maximize the self-reliance and independence of adults with disabilities while, at the same time, ensuring all adults receive essential care for their health, safety, and well being

So, in some cases, limited guardianship is utilized, which recognizes that an adult cannot make decisions in specific areas but still retains the ability to make personal decisions in many other areas of their lives.

With the help of your suggestions and your elder law attorney, you may design guardianship to preserve your loved one’s rights and liberties to the extent of their abilities. However, other parts of the ward’s life may be limited, and the guardian will make specific decisions in areas where your loved one may be unable to.

What Are Some Examples of What a Guardian May Do?

It usually holds that the guardian makes personal and medical care decisions for an incapacitated adult only to protect them from financial or physical harm. These specific “powers” are granted to the guardian in the court’s decree and final order.

Some general duties of a guardian are:

  • Provide a safe and appropriate living situation for their ward.
  • Help ensure and provide basic needs and safety.
  • Help with regular medical treatment, doctor visits, and health decisions.
  • Provide for the social and recreational needs of the ward.
  • Helps the ward apply for health insurance and other benefits.
  • May pay for the ward’s expenses using the income of the ward.
  • May provide for the future needs and costs of the ward and more.

How Can I Start the Process of Guardianship in Massachusetts?

The first thing to do is consult with a professional Worcester estate planning or elder law attorney. There usually are many details to consider, and each case of guardianship differs in its details and appropriate needs; yours is no exception.

Your lawyer will know what questions to ask and how to properly draft the petition to the court to make your and your loved ones’ wishes known. Many details must be addressed, and your lawyer’s advice on handling them will be invaluable.

Anyone interested in the incapacitated adult’s welfare can file a petition for guardianship  and ask the Massachusetts court to appoint a legal guardian. You, as the petitioner who files the petition, are many times the same person who is appointed guardian. However, the petitioner and guardian can be two different people or agencies.

I Feel I May Need to Form a Guardianship: How Should I Proceed

When an elderly family member, a minor, or a friend may require a guardian, it usually is a stressful, emotional, and detailed process to navigate. It’s also, in many cases, a time-consuming and challenging job. You may feel honored to be handed this responsibility as an appointed guardian. However, you must be thoroughly aware of your and the ward’s rights.

Always remember that a ward’s guardianship removes a portion of the ward’s rights. Therefore, the guardian’s powers should be thoroughly thought out. Suppose you need help with guardianship, elder law, or estate planning. Consult with a Worcester estate planning law firm with the experience, empathy, and professional knowledge to ensure everyone’s rights are protected and served.