There are two basic reasons individuals need guardians:  they are incapacitated — physically, mentally, or psychiatrically — and therefore unable to make decisions or to care for themselves, or  they are minors whose parents are either deceased or unable to care for them.
Both of these situations are painful to deal with and can be legally complicated. If you are faced with the need for a guardianship in any capacity, it is critical that you have a knowledgeable, skilled guardianship attorney to provide you with informed legal counsel.
Guardianship in Massachusetts
Because guardianship laws vary from state to state, it is necessary to choose an attorney in your state of residence. In Massachusetts, Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. is a fine choice since our practice provides compassion as well as superior legal representation.
It should be noted that guardianship and conservatorship, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, are two different things. Guardianship involves care and decision-making; conservatorship involves handling financial matters only.
Guardianship of an Incapacitated Person in Massachusetts
Once you are approved as a guardian for an incapacitated person, you are held responsible for:
- Acting in the best interests of the incapacitated person and seriously considering
your ward’s desires and personal values when making decisions about their care
- Keeping the court informed if your address or your ward’s address changes
- Notifying the court if the incapacitated person dies by filing a copy of the death certificate
There are three kinds of guardianship of an incapacitated person: plenary, limited, and Rogers.
Plenary (Complete) Guardianship is established when medical records show that the person is unable to make any major decisions about their own care, lifestyle, living arrangements, or healthcare.
Limited Guardianship is more restricted in scope, applying only to specific areas in which the incapacitated party needs help. Limited guardianships may, for example, allow the incapacitated person to retain the right to decide on where to live, preferences concerning medical treatment, and the right to vote.
A Rogers guardianship is an extreme type of guardianship in which the court gives the guardian permission to agree to extraordinary (typically psychiatric) treatment for the ward. In most cases, this means the guardian has the power to decide that the ward requires (though unable to agree) antipsychotic medication. Nevertheless, a Rogers guardianship may include other intrusive treatments and procedures, such as electroconvulsive therapy, abortion, or sterilization.
Guardianship of a Minor in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, the guardian of a minor is given a parental role and, as such, has both a parent’s power and a parent’s responsibilities relative to the minor’s health, education, safety, travel and healthcare options. In most cases, the guardian of a minor can also determine whether it is wise for the ward to visit with his or her parents.
Who can become the guardian of a minor?
To be eligible to become the guardian of a minor, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Live in the United States
- Not have a criminal record of child abuse or neglect
The court will determine whether you are an appropriate guardian. If the minor child is over the age of 14 years, the court will appoint a guardian the child chooses unless it deems the minor’s choice potentially detrimental.
Contact Our Experienced Guardianship Attorneys for Help with This Sensitive Issue
Guardianship is a delicate matter. Because of the high stakes for everyone involved, it is essential to have a qualified guardianship attorney at your side, one with the strength and integrity to keep you legally and emotionally grounded. Call us today.