Review of Key Points

Full guardianship is not a quick fix. Full guardianship does not necessarily resolve an individual's personal, medical, or financial problems.

Before deciding to pursue full guardianship, it is important that everyone involved in the decision-making process learn about less restrictive alternatives.

These alternatives may allow individuals to hold on to some or all of their rights.

Besides full guardianship, there are other ways to provide support to an individual and to establish substitute decision-making in areas like health care and money management.

Learning about alternatives to full guardianship may take effort on your part, but these alternatives may allow your loved ones to keep more of their legal rights and stay involved in decisions about their lives.

Alternatives to full guardianship include:

  • Use of natural or unpaid resources, including family members and friends;
  • Community services, such as Meals on Wheels or Homemakers;
  • Money management strategies, such as Representative Payee or a Joint Checking Account;
  • Legal documents, such as Power of Attorney or a Living Will; and
  • Limited Medical or Residential Guardianship.

A limited guardian has control over some but not all areas of an individual's life. Limited guardianship is preferable to full guardianship because it encourages maximum independence for individuals.

Full guardianship may be appropriate in certain situations. However, since full guardianship strips an individual of many of their basic decision-making rights, it is important to consider other alternatives first.


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