Guardianship and Conservatorship

Supporting and protecting adults living with a disability or incapacity

Health Care Planning is for Everyone

What is Guardianship?

Guardianship is a legal process for adults who have a clinically diagnosed medical condition and are unable to make or communicate effective decisions about their everyday self-care, health, and safety. The Massachusetts court can appoint a person or entity as a Guardian to make some or all health care and personal decisions on the adult’s behalf. A guardianship protects the adult’s rights to make decisions where they are able, and limits the guardian's decision making authority to areas where the adult is impaired. 

What is Conservatorship?

Conservatorship is a legal process for adults who have a disability or an incapacity and are unable to make or communicate decisions about their money, property or business affairs. The Massachusetts court can appoint a person or entity as a Conservator to help manage the person's money and estate, to ensure the adult's health care and personal services can be contracted and paid for,  and to protect the property and other financial matters from being wasted. A conservatorship protects the adult’s right to make their own financial decisions as they are able, and limits the conservator's decision making authority to only areas where the adult's ability is impaired.

Guardianship: First Consider the Alternatives

Guardianship of a person is an important protective intervention, but it also can be the most restrictive of a person's independence and ability to make personal and health care choices.

Before pursing a guardianship or at ANYTIME during a guardianship, review the Checklist below to assess the adult's decision making ability and consider alternative interventions and supports to avoid, modify or end a guardianship. 

If guardianship is needed, the checklist gives you valuable information about the adult's decision making abilities, health care and personal preferences and needed supports.

Here's the Checklist-

The Guardianship Process: 8 Things to Know

Here are commonly asked questions about the guardianship process and links to informational resources.

Resources for Guardians

Guardians have a challenging role in protecting the rights of incapacitated adults and ensuring they get the best possible medical treatment and services throughout their lifetime.  Here are some useful resources to support guardians.

Conservatorship: Under development- will post shortly!

We welcome your feedback!

The issues guardians and adults subject to or under guidance face are complex and have become increasing difficult to navigate. Highly collaborative solutions and new pathways are needed. Let us know what would help improve this process. Please share a comment below or lend you expertise and lived experience to a workgroup.  We'd welcome hearing from you.

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