Guardianship and Conservatorship for Adults with Disabilities in Massachusetts
This article can provide you with some general information about guardianship and conservatorship for adults with disabilities in Massachusetts. However, please note that laws and regulations can change, so it’s important to consult with a legal professional or the relevant authorities for the most up-to-date information.
In Massachusetts, guardianship and conservatorship are legal processes that involve a court appointing someone to make decisions on behalf of an individual who is deemed incapacitated or unable to make certain decisions due to a disability. Here’s a basic overview:
- Guardianship: A guardian is appointed by the court to make personal and medical decisions for an individual who is unable to make those decisions due to a mental or physical condition. Guardianship typically involves decisions related to healthcare, living arrangements, and personal matters. The person for whom a guardian is appointed is referred to as the “incapacitated person.”
- Conservatorship: A conservator is appointed by the court to manage the financial affairs and assets of an individual who is unable to manage their finances due to a disability. The conservator is responsible for handling the person’s income, paying bills, managing investments, and other financial matters. The person for whom a conservator is appointed is referred to as the “protected person.”
In Massachusetts, the process for obtaining guardianship or conservatorship typically involves the following steps:
- Filing a Petition: An interested party, often a family member or concerned individual, files a petition with the probate court in the county where the individual with a disability resides.
- Evaluation: The petition is typically accompanied by a medical certificate completed by a medical professional who has evaluated the individual in need of help. The court may also appoint a medical professional or another expert to evaluate the individual’s capacity to make decisions.
- Notice: The court causes notice to be made to the individual with a disability and other interested parties about the guardianship or conservatorship proceedings.
- Hearing: A court hearing is held to determine whether guardianship or conservatorship is necessary. All parties involved, including the individual with a disability, have the right to be heard.
- Appointment: If the court determines that guardianship or conservatorship is warranted, it will issue an order appointing a guardian or conservator.
It’s important to note that guardianship and conservatorship significantly limit the individual’s autonomy and decision-making ability. Massachusetts law encourages the consideration of alternatives to guardianship and conservatorship, limitations upon the guardianship when appropriate, as well as supported decision-making and less restrictive alternatives.
As laws and procedures can change, consulting with a guardianship attorney who concentrates in elder law or disability law in Massachusetts to get accurate and up-to-date information about the guardianship and conservatorship process in the state is strongly recommended.