Guardianships & Conservatorships
What is a Guardian?
A guardian is an individual who has been appointed by the probate court to make personal and/or medical decisions for another person. A guardian also has limited authority over small, routine financial matters. We most often think of a guardian of a minor child whose parents have both died, but here we are speaking of an adult who the court determines needs someone else to make some (or all) personal and medical decisions for them.
The court may determine this based on intellectual or developmental disability, mental illness, or in some cases physical disability. A legal guardian’s purpose is to protect the incapacitated adult’s rights, safety, and to the extent feasible their autonomy and independence.
A guardian may be needed for:
- A spouse or elder who’s been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- A young adult who’s at least 18 years-old with an intellectual or developmental disability
- A relative diagnosed with a mental health condition who’s at risk for not receiving care
- A friend or family member with a brain/spinal cord injury, chronic illness or other physical impairment of such nature that a substitute, such as a person signing a Durable Power of Attorney, is not a feasible alternative.
In Massachusetts, a legal guardian is also required to submit periodic status reports to the court for as long as they continue performing their guardianship duties.
What is a Conservator?
A conservator is appointed to make important financial decisions on behalf of an incapacitated adult that are specifically related to money, property, and business affairs.
This is in contrast to a guardian, who has authority over personal and medical decisions and day to day minor financial matters, although the same person can be both a guardian and conservator, each serves as a separate and distinct role in the eyes of the court when it comes to what’s in the best interests of the incapacitated adult.
Massachusetts Legal Representation for Guardians & Conservators
At Special Needs Law Group of Massachusetts, we:
- Counsel clients as to whether a guardianship (or conservatorship) is advisable and if the guardianship should be limited in nature
- Represent clients in court who are petitioning to be appointed as guardian or conservator
- Navigate the sometimes difficult issues that arise with “Rogers Guardianships” (where the individual may be in need of anti-psychotic medications)
- Counsel guardians and conservators on an ongoing or as-needed basis in the proper fulfillment of their roles
- Assist guardians and conservators in preparing and submitting required periodic reports to the court.
Serving as a legal guardian or conservator in Massachusetts is rewarding, but it can also be confusing, challenging, and demanding. At Special Needs Law Group of Massachusetts, we are legal advisors dedicated to best serving the interests of all parties involved when guardianship or conservatorship becomes necessary.
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