Frequently Asked Questions

Q. My dad is experiencing dementia. Should I get full guardianship of him now before his illness gets more serious?

A. Whether you need to seek guardianship of your father at this time will depend on (1) your father's ability to make and carry out responsible decisions right now and (2) the other alternatives that are available to meet his needs and keep him safe.

If your father is still able to make decisions with assistance, it may be helpful for you to sit down with him and do some Advance Planning. You can discuss his wishes for his future, as well as what he doesn't want to happen as his disease worsens. Having these conversations in advance will give your father the power to make decisions about his future. As part of your Advanced Planning conversations, your father may want to update or create a Will, a Health Care Advance Directive, or name someone as a Power of Attorney.

Q. Can guardianship force my brother to take medications? Or stop him from getting into trouble with the law?

A. Guardianship gives another person the authority to make certain decisions on behalf of your brother. The appointment of a guardian by the court will not change your brother's behavior. People under guardianship can still spit out their medications or get into trouble. Guardianship is not a quick fix for all problems.

Q. I've been told guardianship will get my daughter better services. Is this true?

A. Having a guardian does not mean that your child will automatically receive better services or get access to services faster. Getting better services involves advocating for your child and teaming up with people who are willing to help your child get what he or she needs. You may be able to do this without obtaining guardianship.

Q. My sister has a disability. I've been told I have to get full guardianship of her. Is this true?

A. Just because a person has a disability does NOT mean they need a full guardian. Many people with disabilities live independently in the community and make their own decisions. Perhaps your sister will be adequately supported if she receives assistance from natural supports, such as friends and family members, community and social services, or government programs.

Q. If an individual has a FULL guardian can she still make decisions about where she lives and who she is friends with?

A. If an individual wants to retain the right to decide where she lives and who she is friends with, LIMITED guardianship may be a better option than FULL guardianship. LIMITED guardianship allows individuals to hold onto to as many rights as possible. When it comes time to petition the court for LIMITED guardianship, the individual and petitioner tell the court exactly what decisions the guardian will make and what decisions the individual will continue making.

The decision-making-power rewarded to the LIMITED guardian can be very specific. A common example of LIMITED guardianship is a LIMITED Medical Guardianship. Here, the guardian only makes decisions about the individual's health care. The individual retains the right to decide where she lives and who she is friends with.

Q. When is FULL guardianship appropriate?

A. FULL guardianship is appropriate when you have researched and ruled out all other options.

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